Israel's Top Court Clears Return of Kidnapped Boy to Italy

The Supreme Court rejected a request by Eitan Biran's maternal grandfather to appeal the Israeli ruling, which ordered the boy to be sent back to his family in Italy

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Shmuel Peleg, grandfather of Eitan Biran, at court in Tel Aviv, in November.
Shmuel Peleg, grandfather of Eitan Biran, at court in Tel Aviv, in November.Credit: AFP

A six-year-old boy, the sole survivor of an Italian cable car disaster who was kidnapped and taken to Israel by his grandfather, will be returned to Italy no later than Dec. 12, Israel's Supreme Court ruled on Monday.

The court rejected a request by Eitan Biran's maternal grandfather, Shmuel Peleg, to appeal previous Israeli court rulings which said the boy must be sent back to his paternal aunt in Italy.

The child had been living with the aunt since his parents, younger brother and 11 other people died when a gondola plunged to the ground in northern Italy in May.

In September, while visiting Eitan, his maternal grandfather, without the aunt's consent, drove him to Switzerland and chartered a private jet onward to Israel.

The aunt petitioned the Israeli family court for his return to Italy. The court found that the grandfather's actions amounted to kidnapping under the Hague Convention on the return of abducted children.

Last month, an Israeli court ordered the boy to be returned to his relatives in Italy, where he was living with his parents before the crash, saying that was “the place of his normal residence.” It also ordered his grandfather, Shmuel Peleg, who had brought him to Israel against the wishes of his family members in Italy, to pay around $20,000 in expenses and attorney fees.

An appeals court then upheld that decision.

Eitan’s paternal relatives say he was taken without their knowledge, and they had filed a legal complaint in Italy seeking his return. Earlier this month an Italian judge issued an international arrest warrant for Peleg.

Peleg has defended his decision to take Eitan to Israel, saying it was in his grandson's best interest. 

After his release from a Turin hospital following weeks of treatment, Italian juvenile court officials ruled Eitan would live with a paternal aunt, Aya Biran, near Pavia, in northern Italy.

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