Families of Italy cable car crash survivor face off in Israel court

·2-min read

An Israeli family court held an initial hearing Thursday in the case of a boy who was the sole survivor of an Italian cable car crash and whose relatives are locked in a bitter custody battle.

Fourteen people, including Eitan Biran's Israeli parents and younger brother, were killed in the accident in Italy's northwestern Piedmont region in May.

Eitan's maternal grandfather, Shmulik Peleg, has become the subject of a kidnapping probe by Italian prosecutors after he allegedly took the six-year-old to Israel earlier this month on a private jet.

He was supposed to have returned Eitan to the boy's paternal aunt and guardian, Aya Biran, who lives in Pavia in northern Italy. Aya Biran was in the Israeli court on Thursday.

The case has dominated headlines in Italy and Israeli media surrounded the Tel Aviv courtroom for Thursday's hearing, which was focused on interim visitation arrangements between the feuding families.

Aya Biran's lawyer, Shmuel Moran, told reporters after the hearing that the sides had agreed on "temporary agreements" that will remain in place until the next hearing on October 8. He did not give details.

"We also agreed that there will not be any communication about the child's situation," Moran said.

In an interview with Israel's Channel 12 television on Friday, Peleg said Eitan Biran was "happy and surrounded by family" and that they had left Italy in a "totally legal way."

"He is in the place where is supposed to be, in his home, in Israel," Peleg told Channel 12.

Eitan's maternal uncle, Guy Peleg, told Israeli television channel Kan 11 on Tuesday that "Eitan's parents wanted him to grow up in Israel".

Eitan and his parents, Amit Biran and Tal Peleg, had been living in Italy, where Amit Biran was studying medicine, together with their other child, Tom.

Shmulik Peleg was questioned by Israeli police last week in connection with the kidnapping allegation. He was conditionally released but police said the case remained open.


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