Photo Credit: YouTube screen grab
Little Eitan Biran with his parents and brother before the cable car crash.

A six-year-old boy who was the sole survivor of a terrible cable car accident in Italy has been ordered returned to his legal guardian, Biran’s paternal aunt Aya Biran-Nirco, an Israeli who lives in Italy and had filed a lawsuit under the Hague Convention against the grandfather for abducting the child.

After the child’s release from a hospital in Turin, where he received treatment for several weeks following the crash that killed his parents, a younger sibling, and 11 others, Eitan Biran was removed and flown to Israel by his maternal grandfather, Shmulik Peleg.

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Since then, a bitter custody battle has been taking place between the child’s paternal family in Italy – who say he was taken from the country without their knowledge – and his maternal family in Israel. Eitan’s Israeli relatives who live in Italy filed a legal complaint to secure his return.

Little Eitan is expected to be the recipient of millions of euros in compensation for his great personal loss.

Italian juvenile court officials ruled the child should live with his paternal aunt in northern Italy, near Pavia.

On Monday an Israeli court agreed; Judge Iris Ilotovich-Segal of the Tel Aviv family court ordered that Eitan be sent back to his relatives in “the place of his normal residence, which is Italy,” where he had lived from infancy.

The judge also wrote in her decision that “there is supreme importance in focusing on the medical and emotional condition of the minor and giving him the support, treatment and embrace he needs following the tragedy that befell him and his family.”

The judge also ordered the child’s grandfather to pay $20,000 in expenses and attorney fees.

After the accident, the aunt received temporary guardianship over Ethan until the final decision on the custody question. The Israeli judge now ruled that although the aunt is not the child’s mother, and the guardianship was awarded by an Italian court, this should not affect her ability to sue the child’s grandfather under the Hague Convention.

“The aunt’s appointment was not upheld merely by virtue of the grandfather’s consent in a hearing held over the minor’s sickbed, but also after an in-depth examination of the minor’s interests, as reflected in the judgment given in Italy,” the judge ruled and added that “the rights granted to the aunt in the context of her appointment are sufficient to see her as the holder of custody rights for the purpose of the [lawsuit under the] Convention. These were violated by the grandfather.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.