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Custody hearing for Italy cable car survivor ends without ruling

Court to reconvene in coming days to decide in bitter battle between Italy and Israel-based sides of family of Eitan Biran, whose parents and brother were killed in May crash

Aya Biran-Nirko, left, a paternal aunt of Eitan Biran, the boy who survived a cable car crash in Italy that killed his immediate family, arrives to court in Tel Aviv, October 8, 2021. (AP/Tsafrir Abayov)
Aya Biran-Nirko, left, a paternal aunt of Eitan Biran, the boy who survived a cable car crash in Italy that killed his immediate family, arrives to court in Tel Aviv, October 8, 2021. (AP/Tsafrir Abayov)

The second hearing in a bitter custody dispute over a 6-year-old boy who survived a cable car crash in Italy that killed his immediate family ended on Friday without any final ruling, lawyers said.

Eitan Biran is the lone survivor of a mountainside cable car crash in northern Italy in May that killed 14 people, including his parents, younger brother and great grandparents.

The child has been at the center of a custody battle between his maternal grandparents in Israel and paternal relatives in Italy ever since his grandfather, Shmuel Peleg, spirited him away to Israel in September.

Relatives in Italy say he was taken without their knowledge while the relatives in Israel insist they are acting in his best interest and deny breaking the law.

Shmuel Peleg, center, the grandfather of Eitan Biran who was the sole survivor of a deadly cable car crash in Italy, arrives at the Justice Court in Tel Aviv on October 8, 2021. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)

They say his family had been planning on returning to Israel, which they contend is where he should be raised.

“I lost five people of my family,” the boy’s maternal grandmother, Eti Peleg, told reporters outside the courtroom. “I lost my dad, I lost my daughter, I lost my grandson. When we have Friday dinner, half of the family is not there.”

The Biran family, with Eitan on the right. (Courtesy)

Further hearings are expected in the coming days.

Those present at Friday’s hearing were Eitan’s aunt Aya Biran, who lives in Italy and filed a formal request with the Italian court system in September seeking the boy’s return, as well as Shmuel Peleg, who has acknowledged driving him across the border to Switzerland before flying him back to Israel.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report. 

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