Relatives wage legal battle over boy who survived cable car crash

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Relatives wage legal battle over boy who survived cable car crash

Eitan Biran, 5, was the only survivor of the horrific accident in northern Italy in May

Michael Daventry is foreign editor of Jewish News

The gondola landed on the mountainside (Photo: National Alpine and Speleological Rescue Corps of Italy)
The gondola landed on the mountainside (Photo: National Alpine and Speleological Rescue Corps of Italy)

The relatives of an Israeli boy who survived a horrific cable car accident in Italy three months ago has become the subject of a custody battle between two of his aunts.

Eitan Biran’s maternal aunt Gali Peleg said last week that she had launched legal proceedings to adopt her nephew, who has been living with a paternal aunt since the disaster.

The gondola carrying the boy tumbled down part of the mountain overlooking Lake Maggiore on May 23 after the lead cable snapped.

Eitan, 5, was the sole survivor of the accident, which killed 14 people including his parents, younger brother and two great-grandparents.

He suffered severe injuries but appears to have survived because of his father, who cushioned his fall.

Last week Gali Peleg accused Eitan’s paternal aunt Aya Biran-Nirko of abducting the boy and was preventing him from having a normal childhood.

“He was abducted by relatives who don’t know him at all. [Biran-Nirko] was not close to him in any way,” she said at a press conference, according to the Times of Israel.

“The family there won’t take him to a park or out to eat, things we have done so he feels he has a family.

“In a few years he’ll look back and see where he grew up and who his parents were and it’s important to me that he sees that we were always there for him. He already lost one family and does not need to lose another.”

But lawyers for Biran-Nirko, who lives near the northern Italian town of Pavia, said the comments were “surreal”, adding they did not understand the “acrimony and falsehood”.

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