Arrest Warrant Out for Grandpa of Boy in Cable Car Crash

Prosecutors say Eitan Biran was abducted in a 'premeditated strategic plan'
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 13, 2021 8:24 AM CDT
Updated Nov 10, 2021 9:55 AM CST
Boy Who Survived Cable Car Crash in Bizarre Custody Fight
This May 26 photo shows the wreckage of a cable car after it collapsed near the summit of the Stresa-Mottarone line in the Piedmont region, northern Italy.   (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

(Newser) Update: The maternal grandfather of a 6-year-old who survived a May cable car crash that killed his parents and younger brother is now officially in legal hot water. The BBC reports Italy has issued an international arrest warrant for Shmuel Peleg, who's accused of abducting the boy from Italy, where he was staying with the paternal aunt who was granted guardianship after the accident. Italian prosecutors allege Eitan Biran was brought to Israel in September as part of a "premeditated strategic plan," reports the Guardian. They've also issued an arrest warrant for an Israeli man they say drove the vehicle that transported Eitan from Italy to Switzerland; from there he was flown via private plane to Tel Aviv. In October, an Israeli court ruled that Eitan should be returned to his family in Italy. Peleg is appealing. Our original story from Sept. 12 follows:

A young boy whose parents were killed in a cable car crash in Italy earlier this year is now at the center of a bitter custody fight involving relatives in two countries. Eitan Biran, 6, was the sole survivor in the May accident that killed 14 people, including not only his parents but a younger brother. His family had lived in Italy before the accident, and afterward authorities granted custody of Eitan to his paternal aunt in that country, Aya Biran-Nirko, reports the Guardian. Over the weekend, authorities say Eitan's maternal grandfather smuggled him out of Italy, into Switzerland, and then into Israel on a private plane, reports the BBC. The boy's relatives on his father's side in Italy call it an abduction, but those on his mother's side in Israel see it differently.

“We did not kidnap Eitan and we will not use that word. We brought Eitan back home," said maternal aunt Gali Peleg, who had previously filed paperwork to adopt the boy. "We had to do it after we received no information on his health or mental condition.” The dispute is now officially an international incident, and the Times of Israel reports that Israel will likely return the child to Italy. A government agency assessed the incident and concluded on Sunday that what Eitan's maternal grandfather did constitutes a kidnapping. Specifically, the Foreign and Justice Ministries said the action violated the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which requires Israel to return the boy as soon as possible. (Authorities arrested three people accused of negligence in the cable car crash.)

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