Israeli court rules cable car survivor must be returned to family in Italy

By Region News North-west Italy

An Israeli court ruled today (Monday, 25th October) Eitan Biran must be returned to his paternal family in Italy after his grandfather took him to Israel illegally. Eitan was the sole survivor of the Mottarone crash that killed fourteen including his parents and brother.

The battle for custody of Eitan Biran captured headlines since his maternal grandfather, Shmulik Peleg, took him to Israel on a private jet last month.

On 23rd May, a cable car crashed on the Mottarone mountain in Piedmont. Eitan and his family were on a Sunday excursion. The boy lost his parents, younger brother and great-grandparents in the crash.

Peleg removed the boy to be raised in the Jewish state

Peleg insisted he took Eitan back to Israel because Eitan’s late parents wanted him to be raised there. The boy’s paternal aunt, Aya Biran, who lives in northern Italy, was awarded custody of Eitan following the accident.

However, Peleg became the subject kidnapping probe by Italian prosecutors. As a result, Israeli police questioned him over those allegations last month.

The Tel Aviv court issued a statement on Monday saying the judges “did not accept the grandfather’s claim that the aunt has no custody rights”.

The court recognised an Italian judgement that established Biran as a legitimate guardian, Therefore, Peleg had “unlawfully” removed the boy from his aunt’s care.

The court “ordered the return of the minor to his usual place of residence in Italy”. They also found that “a connection” between the surviving members of the Italy- and Israel-based relatives was in Eitan’s “best interests”.

Peleg was also ordered to pay Biran’s legal fees, amounting to 70,000 shekels ($22,000).

May accident that orphaned Eitan

The cable car’s pull cable snapped just before it reached its destination. This caused the car to fly backwards. It dislodged itself from a second supporting cable and crashed to the ground. Eitan suffered severe chest and abdominal injuries and spent a week in intensive care.

Investigations later revealed that emergency brakes had been deliberately deactivated to avoid delays following a technical malfunction.

Three individuals responsible for the cable car’s management were subsequently arrested.

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