Kidnap probe in cable car tragedy
ROME: Magistrates have opened a kidnapping investigation after an Israeli man allegedly smuggled his grandson, who is the only survivor of a cable car crash in Italy that killed 14 people, including his parents, into Israel on a private jet.
Shmuel Peleg is suspected of driving six-year-old Eitan Biran over the Swiss border from Italy and flying him from Lugano to Israel, violating a custody order.
Cristina Pagni, a lawyer representing the boy’s Italy-based paternal aunt, said the episode violated the 1980 Hague convention on international child abduction, which Israel adopted in 1991.
The family tug of war started in May when Eitan was the sole survivor of a cable car crash at Lake Maggiore that killed his parents, his two great-grandparents and his baby brother. The family had been living in Italy for five years.
Italian judges named his father’s sister, Aya Biran-Nirko, who also lives in Italy, as guardian.
That was contested by his late mother’s family, who demanded he be relocated to Israel.
Mr Peleg, a former Israeli soldier, is thought to have ties to Israeli intelligence. Experts in the Israeli foreign and justice ministries have issued a legal opinion denouncing the move as likely to have been a kidnapping.
A source said the Italian government had yet to contact the Israeli government on the matter.