Italy seeks arrest of Israeli grandfather of cable car crash survivor

Eitan Biran's grandfather is accused of kidnapping the boy and taking him to Israel illegally.

Italy has issued an international arrest warrant for Shmulik Peleg, the maternal grandfather of six-year-old Eitan Biran whose parents were killed in a cable car crash near Lake Maggiore last May.

Italian prosecutors allege that Peleg abducted the child from his aunt's home and flew him to Israel illegally in September amid a bitter custody battle for the boy, the sole survivor of the accident that claimed 14 lives.

An arrest warrant has also been issued for another Israeli man, resident in Cyprus, who assisted Peleg in taking the child over the border to Switzerland before boarding a private chartered plane to Tel Aviv at a reported cost of €42,000.

Prosecutors in the northern city of Pavia told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera that Peleg, 58, had carried out a “strategic and premeditated plan” to take Biran out of Italy.

In the aftermath of the cable car crash and his eventual release from hospital, the Italian courts entrusted the boy to his paternal aunt, Aya Biran, who lives in Pavia with her family.

However the parents of Eitan's mother did not agree with this situation, insisting that he should grow up in Israel, despite the fact that the boy had lived in Italy since he was one month old.

In late October a court in Tel Aviv ruled that Eitan must be returned to live with his aunt Aya in Italy, prompting the Peleg family to file an appeal, with a hearing expected on Thursday.

Pavia prosecutors told Italian news agency ANSA that they will wait to see how Israeli authorities respond to the international arrest warrant, before proceeding to conclude the investigation and request a trial.