Boy who survived Italy cable car disaster in bitter custody dispute


Boy, six, who was the sole survivor of Italy cable car disaster will remain in Israel during bitter custody dispute after his grandfather flew him to the country sparking a kidnap probe

  • Eitan Biran, six, survived cable car a tragedy in the Italian Alps on May 23
  • His mother, father, younger brother and great-grandparents all lost their lives
  • He was living with his paternal aunt Aya Biran-Nirko in Pavia in northern Italy
  • But his grandfather allegedly kidnapped him and took him back to Israel
  • But Tel Aviv court has decided Eitan will remain in Israel during custody proceedings 


The six-year-old survivor of a cable car crash that killed 14 people including his parents and brother is set to remain in Israel during a bitter custody battle over him.

Eitan Biran miraculously survived the accident in the northern Italian region of Piedmont on May 23.

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, close to the city of Pavia. 

In their decision, the authorities cited the fact that he had been living with his immediate family in Italy prior to the accident taking place. 

A Tel Aviv court has decided that Eitan Biran, six, the sole survivor cable car crash that killed 14 people including his parents and brother is set to remain in Israel during a bitter custody battle over him

Fourteen people, including Eitan Biran's Israeli parents, younger brother and great-grandparents, were killed in the accident in Italy's northwestern Piedmont region in May. After the accident, Eitan had been airlifted to hospital in critical condition

Fourteen people, including Eitan Biran’s Israeli parents, younger brother and great-grandparents, were killed in the accident in Italy’s northwestern Piedmont region in May. After the accident, Eitan had been airlifted to hospital in critical condition 

But Eitan’s maternal grandfather Shmulik Peleg allegedly took him to Israel two weeks ago on a private jet after taking him out on an agreed day visit and failing to return.

The ongoing legal battle involves not only Biran-Nirko and Peleg but also Biran’s Israel-based maternal aunt, Gali Peleg, who is also seeking custody of the youngster.

In the latest hearing, the court in Tel Aviv decided that Biran was to remain in Israel during proceedings and he would be looked after by both sides of his family during that time.

Biran-Nirko has travelled to Israel for the court case, and both she and Peleg will care for the boy alternately during the weeks-long process.

Eitan's maternal grandfather Shmulik Peleg (pictured at court today) allegedly took him to Israel two weeks ago on a private jet after taking him out on an agreed day visit and failing to return

Eitan’s maternal grandfather Shmulik Peleg (pictured at court today) allegedly took him to Israel two weeks ago on a private jet after taking him out on an agreed day visit and failing to return

After Eitan was discharged from hospital in the city of Turin, the Italian authorities had ruled he would live with his paternal aunt, Israeli-born doctor Aya Biran-Nirko (pictured), close to the city of Pavia

After Eitan was discharged from hospital in the city of Turin, the Italian authorities had ruled he would live with his paternal aunt, Israeli-born doctor Aya Biran-Nirko (pictured), close to the city of Pavia

Peleg had denied abducting his grandson, claiming that he drove him to Switzerland and then boarded a flight with him to Israel ‘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.

The Italian authorities also opened their own investigation into the actions of Peleg, who has a criminal record for domestic violence.

Biran-Nirko hopes the fact that her nephew’s mother tongue is Italian and that his medical and psychological rehabilitation took place in Italy will help her case.

However, the boy’s maternal relatives hope the fact that the family was planning on returning to Israel will convince the court not to order the boy’s return to Italy.

The legal case continues.

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