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Boy Returned to Italy After Cross-Border Custody Battle

On May 23, 2021, a cable car cabin crashed in Stresa, near Lake Maggiore, Italy.  Eitan Biran, his parents, younger brother, and 11 other people were in the cabin when it plunged to the ground.  Biran was the sole survivor.  The child was born in Israel but moved to Italy with his family when he was just one month old.  Biran had been living in Italy ever since.  After the crash, Biran lived with his aunt in Italy.  While visiting Biran in Italy, Biran’s maternal grandfather drove him to Switzerland without his aunt’s consent and chartered a private jet to take the two back to Israel.  A cross-border custody battle ensued.


Biran’s aunt petitioned the Israeli family court to return the child to Italy.  The court found that, under the Hague Convention, the grandfather’s actions amounted to kidnapping.  Court rulings ordered that Biran be returned to his aunt in Italy by December 12, 2021.  Biran’s grandfather sought to appeal, but Israel’s Supreme Court rejected his requests.  Representatives of Biran’s grandfather stated that the family would continue to seek a court order in favor of bringing Biran back to Israel.


Biran’s aunt was ecstatic that the child would be returning to Italy after the beginning of the nearly three-month custody battle.  Biran’s aunt told the news media that Biran would return to his normal life and routine, surrounded by neighborhood friends, family, and his beloved cat, Oliver.


In late November, the Cypriot police reported that they had arrested a man in connection with the alleged kidnap.