Prosecutors in northern Italy are investigating reports that a six-year-old Israeli boy who survived a cable car accident in May was kidnapped.
Eitan Biran was reportedly brought back to Israel by his maternal grandmother over the weekend.
After the accident near Lake Maggiore that killed his parents, great-grandparents and two-year-old brother, he was the subject of a custody dispute between aunts on opposite sides of his family.
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Eitan suffered serious injuries but appears to have survived because of his father cushioning his fall.
He was then placed in the care of his paternal aunt, Aya Biran-Nirko, by the Italian authorities.
But his maternal relatives vowed to contest the decision, saying the child was being held “hostage”.
According to Italian media reports, Eitan drove across the border with Switzerland last weekend and was flown to Tel Aviv in a private jet.
Ansa News Agency reported that Cristina Pagni, one of Aya Biran’s attorneys, was planning to appeal to a judge under the 1980 Hague Abduction Convention to bring Eitan back.
The child’s family in Israel told local media that he was receiving “psychological and medical care” in a hospital on the outskirts of Tel Aviv.
“We did not kidnap Eitan and we will not use that word,” said Gali Peleg, the boy’s maternal aunt, in an interview with Radio103FM.
“We brought Eitan home. We had to do it after we had not received any information about his health or mental state. If the judge hadn’t scheduled sessions [with the child], we would not have seen him. “
But legal experts told Israel’s Channel 12 that Eitan would likely need to be returned to Italy under international law.
The prosecutor in Pavia has started an investigation, Ansa reported.