An Israeli court has put a temporary freeze on plans to return the six-year-old sole survivor of the Stresa-Mottarone cable car crash to his aunt in Italy.
Eitan Biran survived the accident near Lake Maggiore in the Italian region of Piedmont that killed 14 people including his parents, brother and two great-grandparents on 23rd May.
After he was discharged from hospital in the city of Turin, the Italian authorities ruled that he was to live with his paternal aunt, Israeli-born doctor Aya Biran-Nirko, near the city of Pavia.
However, he was subsequently taken to Israel by his maternal grandfather, Shmulik Peleg, with Biran-Nirko accusing him of abduction.
Peleg, who had driven his grandson to Switzerland and then boarded a flight to Israel, claimed at the time that it was all done “in a totally legal way”.
However, the Israeli authorities subsequently placed him under house arrest and he was questioned by the police on suspicion of kidnapping.
A magistrates’ court in Tel Aviv subsequently ruled that the boy should be returned to Italy to live with his aunt, whom the court recognised as his legitimate guardian based on a prior ruling by an Italian court.
The magistrates’ court added that Peleg should pay NIS 70,000 (GBP 16,800) in court expenses.
Peleg, maintaining that Biran-Nirko had never been granted legal custody of the child, filed an appeal against the magistrates’ court’s decision ordering the boy’s return to Italy.
Following the appeal, the long-drawn-out custody battle over Eitan is now set to continue, as the Israeli Supreme Court has now ordered a delay on having the boy returned to Italy.
The court ruled that Eitan must remain in the country until at least 23rd November.
The legal battle continues.