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Maternal family of cable car crash orphan appeals ruling to send boy back to Italy

The maternal relatives of a boy whose parents died in an Italian cable car crash submitted an appeal on Monday of a Tel Aviv court decision to send the 6-year-old back to Italy where he would remain in the custody of a paternal aunt.

“The boy has expressed his clear desire to remain in his mother’s family’s care,” the Peleg family wrote in their appeal, which also claims that his paternal aunt, Aya Biran, who is currently in Israel, is preventing them from visiting the orphaned child.

The battle for custody of Eitan Biran, the sole survivor of the May accident that killed 14 people, including his parents, younger brother and great-grandparents, has captured headlines since his maternal grandfather, Shmulik Peleg, brought him to Israel on a private jet in September.

Last week, the Tel Aviv family court ruled that Eitan Biran be returned to his family in Italy.

The judge recognized Aya Biran as a legitimate guardian based on a ruling by an Italian court and said Peleg had “unlawfully” removed the boy from his aunt’s care.

The court “ordered the return of the minor to his usual place of residence in Italy,” the country where he had been living since he was a month old, and noted that it is there that the boy’s future and well-being will be decided.

In addition, Shmulik Peleg was ordered to pay NIS 70,000 ($21,835) in court expenses.

In their appeal, the Pelegs maintained that Aya Biran has never been officially granted custody over Eitan, who wants to remain in Israel.

“The boy expresses his clear desire to stay in Israel with his mother’s family, and his voice is not being heard,” the Peleg family wrote in their appeal, claiming Aya was victimizing Eitan all over again. “We trust the justice system to do its job faithfully and decide according to his own good.”

In response to the appeal, the Biran family said in a statement that the original Tel Aviv family court ruling “speaks for itself.”

“We believe the district court will reject the appeal and that Eitan will be allowed to return to his family, to his school and to the therapeutic frameworks from which he was abducted.”

At the time of the crash, Eitan and his parents, Amit Biran and Tal Peleg, and his younger brother, Tom, had been living in Italy, where Amit Biran was studying medicine.

Shmulik Peleg was questioned by Israeli police in September in connection with the kidnapping allegation, before being conditionally released.

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

Eti Peleg told Channel 13 it was her husband’s idea and she only found out about it a few days after the fact.

“I don’t know if he made a mistake or didn’t make a mistake. I only know that Eitan’s place is in Israel,” she said.

According to the station, Italian police, in cooperation with their Israeli peers, are investigating Eitan’s removal to Israel as a possible kidnapping.

Source: TOI

Notes:

A statement from the Tel Aviv family court where Aya Biran had filed a complaint said judges “did not accept the grandfather’s claim that the aunt has no custody rights.”

It recognized Biran as a legitimate guardian based on a ruling by an Italian court and said Peleg had “unlawfully” removed the boy from his aunt’s care.

The court “ordered the return of the minor to his usual place of residence in Italy,” the country where he had been living since he was just a month old, and noted that it is there that the boy’s future and well-being will be decided.

In addition, Peleg was ordered to pay NIS 70,000 ($21,835) in court expenses.

Judge Iris Ilotovich-Segal urged the two sides of the family to mend their differences for Eitan’s sake.

“At the stage we are at, it is of paramount importance to focus on the minor’s medical and emotional condition and give him the support, care and embrace he needs due to the tragedy that befell him and his family,” Ilotovich-Segal said. “Hope has not yet been lost in mending the rupture of the families, which was torn apart all at once in the shadow of the tragedy.”

The Biran family’s team of attorneys said in a statement they while they welcome the court decision they recognize “that in this affair there are no victors or defeated, winners or losers, there is only Eitan.”

They said Eitan’s speedy return to his life in Italy is best for him.

At the time of the crash, Eitan and his parents, Amit Biran and Tal Peleg, had been living in Italy, where Amit Biran was studying medicine, together with their other child, Tom.

According to the station Italian police, in cooperation with their Israeli peers, are leading an investigation into Eitan’s removal to Israel as a possible kidnapping.

Source: TOI