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Boy Who Survived Cable Car Crash in Bizarre Custody Fight

Maternal grandfather smuggles Eitan Biran out of Italy and into Israel
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 13, 2021 8:24 AM CDT
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) – 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.

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“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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