Cyprus arrests man in connection with alleged kidnap of Israeli boy -police

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FILE PHOTO: Italian fire brigade works to remove crashed cable car cabin, which left 14 people dead, after it collapsed on May 23, 2021,

NICOSIA (Reuters) - A man has been arrested in Cyprus in connection with the alleged kidnapping of an Israeli boy who was the only survivor of a cable car disaster in Italy in May, police said, after Italian authorities issued an international warrant for him.

Italian prosecutors believe Gabriel Abutbul Alon helped the grandfather of six-year-old Eitan Biran to take the boy back to Israel in September without the consent of the paternal aunt he was living with.

The boy's parents, younger brother and 11 other people died in the cable car crash in northern Italy.

Alon and Eitan's grandfather Shmuel Peleg are accused of having driven the boy from Italy to Switzerland, where they chartered a private jet onward to Israel.

"The arrest occurred yesterday in Limassol ... on an Interpol warrant," a Cyprus police source said.

Alon was taken on Friday to a district court, which said it would decide on Monday whether he should remain in custody. A lawyer for Alon could not be immediately reached for comment.

Shmuel Peleg's decision to take the boy to Israel triggered a cross-border custody battle between him and the paternal aunt.

An Israeli tribunal upheld a petition to send him back to Italy, but its top court has halted procedures as it reviews a request to appeal against the decision.

The prosecutor's office in the Italian city of Pavia was not immediately available to comment.

(Reporting by Michele Kambas, additional reporting and writing by Angelo Amante in Rome, Editing by William Maclean)

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