Israeli court hears fight over custody of cable car survivor, 6 | World news


JERUSALEM (AP) – The bitter custody battle for a 6-year-old boy who survived a cable car crash in Italy advanced in Israel on Monday with a family court hearing.

Eitan Biran’s relatives on both sides attended the session in Tel Aviv, in a legal fight that spans the two countries where his remaining parents reside. Eitan’s immediate family were among 14 people killed when the cable car carrying them crashed into the mountainside in May. The child’s survival sparked an immediate international conflict between his maternal and paternal families.

Members of the two families met in Tel Aviv Family Court on Monday, a next step in the dispute. Among those in attendance were Eitan’s aunt, Aya Biran, who lives in Italy and has filed an official application with the Italian judicial system to seek Eitan’s return to Italy. The child’s grandfather, Shmulik Peleg, also attended Monday’s hearing, which took the boy to Israel.

Eitan’s relatives in Italy say he was taken away without their knowledge and are calling for his return. Relatives of the child in Israel have denied to local media that they abducted Eitan and insist they are acting in his best interests.

Peleg admitted to driving the child from Italy to Switzerland before bringing him back to Israel, telling Channel 12 that “we left completely legally.”

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Peleg was questioned by Israeli police on suspicion of kidnapping and placed under house arrest pending an ongoing investigation.

Italian authorities have also opened an investigation. Peleg told Israel’s Channel 12 that he had given up on challenging custody in Italian courts and said he expected the boy to understand once he gets older.

“I believe that one day Eitan will grow up and say grandfather, you did everything for me, you saved me,” he said, bursting into tears. “And my daughter, who will one day meet me in Heaven, will be proud of me that I saved her son.”

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