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Grandparents have 15 days to return six-year-old cable car crash survivor to Italy

Written by on 12/11/2021

An appeals court in Israel has ruled that a six-year old boy whose parents died in a cable car crash must be returned to his relatives in Italy within 15-days, upholding an earlier ruling in a bitter custody battle.

A cable car carrying Eitan Biran and his family slammed into a mountainside in northern Italy in May killing 14 people, including both of Eitan’s parents and younger sibling.

A bitter custody battle followed in which his maternal grandparents in Israel and his paternal relatives in Italy are both seeking custody.

Rescuers at the crash site. PIC: Italy Alpine rescue service
Image: Eitan Biran’s parents and younger sibling were among 14 people killed in May

Following Eitan’s release from a Turin hospital, an Italian juvenile court ruled that he would live with his aunt, Aya Biran in northern Italy.

But, in September the boy’s maternal grandfather flew him to Israel on a private jet, against the wishes of his family in Italy, an action his grandfather, Shmuel Peleg would later defend saying it was in the best interest of the child.

This week an Israeli judged responded to this action by issuing an international arrest warrant for the boy’s grandfather.

Shmuel Peleg, the grandfather of Eitan Biran, looks at his mobile phone before the start of a court hearing over the alleged kidnapping of Biran, a six-year-old boy who was the only survivor of an Italian cable car disaster and is now at the centre of a custody battle, at a court in Tel Aviv, Israel
Image: Shmuel Peleg, the grandfather of Eitan Biran drove him from Italy to Switzerland without the other relatives’ knowledge.

This followed a decision last month in which an Israeli court ordered Eitan to be returned to Italy as that was “the place of his normal residence”, in addition to requesting Peleg pay around 20,000 dollars (£15,000) in expenses and lawyers’ fees.

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Reports from Israeli media said that his family in Israel can appeal to the Supreme Court.

Ronen Dalyahu, a lawyer for the relatives in Israel, said they are considering an appeal.

Eitan was driven from Italy to Switzerland before being flown to Israel by his maternal grandparents, a trip his paternal relatives were unaware of.

ya Biran, the paternal aunt of Eitan Biran, a six-year-old boy who was the only survivor of an Italian cable car disaster and is now at the centre of a custody battle, speaks to members of the media before the start of a court hearing over the alleged kidnapping of Biran at a court in Tel Aviv, Israel
Image: Italian juvenile court officials ruled that Eitan would live with a paternal aunt, Aya Biran

Eitan’s paternal relatives say he was taken without their knowledge and they had filed a legal complaint in Italy seeking his return.

An earlier ruling in Tel Aviv family court determined that Italy would be his place of residence as that is where his family has moved when he was only a month old.

The judge called for the family to reconcile in the interest of Eitan and concluded that he was unlawfully taken to Israel as this was against the guardianship rights of his aunt.

 Sky News

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