A man from the Ivory Coast who allegedly attempted to smuggle his eight-year-old son into Europe inside a suitcase has been detained by a Spanish court.

Border guards stopped a 19-year-old Moroccan woman as she waited in line at a crossing in Ceuta, North Africa, on Thursday.

The woman was described as “nervous” and “indecisive” by the Guardia Civil and when the guards put her suitcase through a scanner they spotted the boy curled up inside.

Alfonso Cruzado, a spokesman for the Guardia Civil in Ceuta, told El Mundo newspaper: “I have been doing this for a long time and I have never seen such a grotesque and dramatic attempt to enter the country by a child.

“The scanner operators could never imagine that inside the suitcase there was a child.”

The boy was disoriented and terrified, guards said. He told them his name was Adou was from the Ivory Coast.

Border officers detained the woman and the boy’s father half an hour later after he arrived at the crossing with a permit to live in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria.

He was held on suspicion of human trafficking offences and is believed to have paid for his son to cross the border because he did not have the required documents.

The man was held without bail after appearing at the Superior Court of Andalusia on Friday.

Red Cross officials checked the boy but he was found to have been unhurt by the ordeal.

Spanish border officials deal with a number of migrants attempting to get from North Africa into Europe every year.

Many smuggle themselves on to ferries heading for Spain and then jump off close to the shore to avoid immigration barriers.

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