6-year-old sole survivor of Italian cable car crash must be returned to Italy, court rules

A six-year-old boy who was the sole survivor of an Italian cable car crash must be returned to family in Italy, a court has ruled.

Eitan Biran’s parents, brother and two great-grandparents were among 14 people killed in the accident in May.

The crash sparked a custody fight over which of his remaining relatives should care for him afterwards.

His paternal aunt, who lives in Italy, was given guardianship by an Italian judge.

But in September he was flown to Israel on a private jet by his maternal grandfather without her permission.

Israeli police then opened a kidnapping investigation and questioned the grandfather, who insisted that his actions were legal and in Eitan’s best interests.

Now an Israeli court has ordered Eitan be returned to his usual place of residence in Italy. It found the boy had deeper ties to his Italian relatives than he did to those in Israel.

The court also said the grandfather “unlawfully” removed the boy, breaking the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction, an agreement that can help return an abducted child who is under 16 years old to the country they usually live in.

Eitan, his brother Tom and their parents, Amit Biran and Tal Peleg, had been living in Italy for several years before the accident.

The boy was badly injured and required weeks of treatment at a hospital in Turin.

After he was discharged in June, an Italian juvenile court granted custody to his paternal aunt, Aya Biran-Nirko, an Israeli-born doctor who lives in Italy.

On 13 September, Eitan was taken out for the day by his maternal grandfather, Shmulik Peleg, who moved from Israel to Italy after the accident and had visitation rights. He drove Eitan to neighbouring Switzerland and then flew him to Israel, using the boy’s Israeli passport.

Eitan’s family in Italy petitioned an Israeli court to have him returned.

After a hearing in September, the court ordered joint custody for Eitan between the aunt and the grandfather, before a trial this month.

In its ruling on Monday, the Tel Aviv court also ordered Peleg to pay 70,000 Shekels in legal costs to his aunt.

But the judge, Iris Ilotovich-Segal, said she still hoped the rift between the families could be healed.

“The boy is the only survivor of the cable car accident and the message of his late parents’ ‘spiritual will’ would be for their families to set the right path on which the boy can tread peacefully and safely between them,” she wrote.