TEL AVIV, Israel – (AP) – The bitter custody battle for a six-year-old boy who survived a cable car crash in Italy advanced in Israel on Thursday, with a new court date and calls being made for the protection of privacy.
Lawyers from both family branches spoke after relatives of Eitan Biran on both sides walked out of Tel Aviv Family Court, where a court date has been set for next month and other logistics have been put in place. been discussed in a closely watched international legal battle. Eitan’s immediate family were among 14 people killed when the cable car carrying them crashed into the mountainside on May 23.
At the center of the fight is the decision of Eitan’s grandfather, Shmulik Peleg, who brought the boy back from Italy through Switzerland and back to Israel. The Italian juvenile court authorities had decided that the child could live with a paternal aunt near Pavia, in northern Italy. Peleg and Eitan’s aunt, Aya Biran, who lives in Italy, were among those close to the hearing Thursday.
Shmuel Moran, an attorney for Eitan’s aunt, said the tribunal would meet again on October 8 and the parties had agreed to other arrangements. He and Ronen Dalyahu, the lawyer for the Israeli side of the family, appealed for privacy.
But the footage of Eitan’s aunt and grandfather in the same building was striking given the tragedy and the gravity of the argument.
Eitan’s relatives in Italy say he was taken away without their knowledge and are calling for his return. Relatives of the child in Israel have denied to local media that they abducted Eitan and insist they are acting in his best interests.
Peleg admitted to driving the child from Italy to Switzerland before bringing him back to Israel, telling Channel 12 that “we left completely legally.”
Italian authorities have also opened an investigation. Peleg told Israel’s Channel 12 that he had given up on challenging custody in Italian courts and said he expected the boy to understand once he gets older.
“I believe that one day Eitan will grow up and say grandfather, you did everything for me, you saved me”, he declared, bursting into tears. “And my daughter, who will one day meet me in Heaven, will be proud of me that I saved her son.”
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