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Roma girl deported from France arrives Croatia


A Roma schoolgirl whose deportation from France sparked outrage has arrived in EU-member state Croatia after being granted new travel documents, her father said on Friday.

Leonarda Dibrani, her mother Xhemila and three brothers have been staying with an uncle in Sisak, southeast of Zagreb, the girl's father Resat Dibrani told AFP.

"I just spoke to them, they are happy although a bit worried for me," he said, adding that some of the family had been given travel documents by the Croatian embassy in Pristina.

The Dibrani case hit the headlines in France when it emerged the 15-year-old was detained while on a school trip.

She and the rest of the family were later deported to Kosovo, but not before the case brought thousands of students to the streets and French President Francois Hollande was forced to comment on the case.

The five members of the family that have made the journey once held Croatian passports, although they had expired.

Resat Dibrani, a Kosovo national, has stayed in Kosovska Mitrovica with the family's youngest child, a two-year-old girl who also does not have a Croatian passport, and another daughter.

He added that the family plans to take legal action so that they can be reunited.

"I have a lot of hope. It is a huge opportunity for us to leave Kosovo, the biggest since we were deported," said Dibrani.

The deportation of the 15-year-old Leonarda last year triggered mass student protests in France, with calls that she be allowed to return and continue her studies.

A formal probe into the deportation found it was lawful but that police could have used better judgement in the way they handled the case.

In January, a French court reject an appeal for residency from the family, ruling that the public magistrate handling the case had been right to uphold the family's expulsion.