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HomeNewsEitan Biran Custody Ruling Issued by Israeli Court

Eitan Biran Custody Ruling Issued by Israeli Court


Tel Aviv – A family court in Israel ruled on Monday that the 6-year-old survivor of an Italian cable car accident should live with his aunt on his father’s side in Italy, not with his maternal grandfather who motivated him to Israel in what the court said violated international law.

The boy, Ethan Biran, was the only survivor when a cable broke on a gondola traveling up a mountain of nearly 5,000 feet in northern Italy in May. He was born in Israel but lived in Italy with his parents who were killed in a crash.

The custody dispute between his aunt, Aya Biran, and his grandfather, Shmuel Peleg, divided the family and attracted international attention.

The court accepted Ms Byrne’s claim that she was the child’s legal guardian, was properly appointed by an Italian court, and dismissed outright all of Mr Peleg’s claims.

Judge Iris Ilotovich-Segal also accused Mr. Peleg of smuggling the child to Israel in violation of the Hague Convention on Abducted Minors, and ordered him to pay Ms. Biran’s legal expenses.

“I am very excited and very happy about the decision, which came after very difficult months, both the disaster and the legal battle I had to wage,” Ms. Biran said in a telephone interview. “The most important thing is to get Ethan home as soon as possible – for his rehabilitation, and for his school, and for his friends and the room he knows, and for his cat Oliver – and try to get him back on track as quickly as possible. Under the circumstances.”

Her lawyer, Shmuel Moran, said that “there are no winners in the legal process here, except for one winner, Eitan, who needs to return home as soon as possible.”

The Peleg family is considering appealing the decision.

“The family is determined to continue to fight in all possible ways, for the benefit of Eitan, for his safety and his right to grow up in Israel as his parents wish,” the family spokesman said in a statement.

The court’s ruling dealt only with the circumstances of Eitan’s arrival in Israel, and not with “his peace and future,” the Peleg family said in a statement.

Judge Ilotovich-Segal ordered a seven-day delay in the execution of her decision to allow the defendants to appeal to the district court.

An Italian court in Turin appointed Ms Byrne as the child’s legal guardian shortly after the accident, and he lived with her in a small town near Fabia, Italy.

Mr. Peleg visited the boy in Italy last month and took him for a short walk with the consent of Ms. Biran.

Instead of returning Ethan in time for dinner, as promised, Mr. Peleg drove the boy across the border to Switzerland and from there took a private plane to Israel.

Mr. Peleg claimed that Eitan’s parents, who had moved to Italy for his father to study medicine, had always intended to return to Israel.

Judge Ilotovic-Segal rejected this claim, as did Mr. Peleg’s fear that Eitan would be harmed by his return to Italy.

The factions have challenged Ms. Byrne’s guardianship in the courts in Milan and Fabia, which are due to hold hearings in November and December.

Mario Vanditi, prosecutor Fabia investigating whether Mr Peleg violated Italian law when he took Eitan to Israel, declined to comment.

At the end of her ruling, Judge Ilotovich-Segal called on both sides to try to reach a friendly settlement for Eitan, saying that his well-being required support and contact with the two families.

“Such a connection that will allow him to feel a sense of belonging and a place to continue the legacy of the two families and to commemorate the memory of his immediate family,” she wrote.

The circumstances that led to the verdict are unchangeable, the judge wrote, “however, there is always a choice as to actions to be taken later.”

“Hope has not yet been lost in repairing the rift between the families,” she said.

Elizabeth Poboldo contributed a report from Rome.


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