World

6-Year-Old Boy, Caught in International Custody Battle, Is Expected to Return to Italy

ROME — Nearly three months after he was spirited by his grandfather to Israel, setting off an international custody battle, a 6-year-old boy who was the sole survivor of an Italian cable car crash was expected to return to Italy on Friday, according to a lawyer for one of the boy’s aunts.

The boy, Eitan Biran, survived a tragic cable car crash in May that killed 14 people including his parents, and his return to Italy will cap a monthslong legal clash in Israel over the boy’s guardianship that will now resume in the Italian courts.

The boy found himself thrust into the public spotlight for a second time, in September, when Shmuel Peleg, his grandfather, picked him up from the house of an aunt, Aya Biran, in Italy, where he had been living after the accident, for what was supposed to be a toy-shopping spree.

But instead of returning Eitan in time for dinner, as promised, the grandfather drove the boy across the border to Switzerland and then took him back to Israel on a private plane.

In Israel, Mr. Peleg was accused by Ms. Biran of violating The Hague Convention, which addresses the return of kidnapped children to their country of residence, and last month the Supreme Court of Israel upheld an earlier court ruling that Eitan should be returned to Italy, removing the final legal obstacle for his return.

As his return to Italy approached, lawyers cautioned the news media to respect the child’s privacy. “Eitan now needs serenity and tranquillity, along with his family, to face a delicate recovery,” lawyers for Ms. Biran, Eitan’s paternal aunt, said in a statement.

Shmuel Peleg, the grandfather of Eitan Biran, last month in Tel Aviv. Mr. Peleg took Eitan back to Israel on a private plane, without telling the boy’s paternal aunt.Credit…Ariel Schalit/Associated Press

An Italian prosecutor has issued an international arrest warrant for Mr. Peleg.The prosecutor has accused Mr. Peleg, his former wife and a man suspected of being an accomplice of kidnapping.

Mr. Peleg would be arrested only if he were to leave Israel because the country does not extradite its citizens until a definitive conviction has been issued, and an arrest warrant is not considered sufficient, said one of his lawyers, Paolo Sevesi.

Eitan was expected to return to Ms. Biran’s home in northern Italy, in time to celebrate the final days of Hanukkah with his family there.

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