Prosecutors in northern Italy are investigating reports that a six-year-old Israeli boy who survived a cable car accident in May has been abducted.
Eitan Biran was reportedly taken back to Israel by his maternal grandmother over the weekend.
He had become the subject of a custody battle between aunts on opposite sides of his family after the accident near Lake Maggiore that killed his parents, great-grandparents and two-year-old brother.
Eitan suffered severe injuries but appears to have survived because of his father, who cushioned his fall.
He was subsequently put by Italian authorities into the care of his paternal aunt Aya Biran-Nirko.
But his maternal relatives vowed to challenge the decision, saying the child was being held “hostage”.
Italian media reports said Eitan was driven last weekend across the border with Switzerland and flown to Tel Aviv on a private jet.
The Ansa news agency reported Cristina Pagni, one of Aya Biran’s lawyers, saying she planned to appeal to a judge under the 1980 Hague Abduction Convention to have Eitan returned.
The child’s family in Israel told local media that he was being given “psychological and medical care” at 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 back home. We had to do it after we received no information on his health or mental condition. If the judge had not scheduled meetings [with the child], we would not have seen him.”
But legal experts told Israel’s Channel 12 that Eitan would likely have to be returned to Italy under international law.
Prosecutors in Pavia have begun an investigation, Ansa reported.
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