Authorities in Italy have launched an investigation after a child, the only survivor of a deadly cable car crash in May, was taken to Israel by his grandfather.
The accident killed 14 people, including Eitan Biran’s parents, younger brother, and two of his great grandparents.
Since being released from the hospital, the six-year-old has been staying with a paternal aunt in Italy.
Eitan’s maternal relatives in Israel, on the other hand, had applied for custody.
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Before the crash, Eitan’s family had been living in Italy for several years, and his paternal aunt Aya Biran-Nirko was granted custody in June.
On Saturday, however, Eitan was escorted out by his maternal grandfather, Shmulik Peleg, who had relocated to Italy following the crash and had visitation rights.
He then used Eitan’s Israeli passport to fly him out of the country on a private jet. Since then, Israeli diplomats have confirmed his arrival in the country.
Gali Peleg, Eitan’s maternal aunt, filed for adoption in August, claiming the boy was being held hostage in Italy.
“We did not kidnap Eitan… we brought him home,” she said on Israel’s Radio 103FM on Sunday, adding that Eitan’s parents had wanted to visit Israel prior to the crash.
According to the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, the child’s paternal aunt described the news as “another tragedy for Eitan.”
The cause of the crash in northern Italy is still being investigated, but prosecutors believe the car’s emergency brakes were intentionally disabled.
When the main cable holding the car snapped, there was nothing stopping it from reversing at over 100km/h (62mph) on a support cable, passing a support pylon, then plummeting to the ground and rolling down the mountain.
Thirteen people were killed at the scene, including a two-year-old child, and another died later in the hospital.
A number of employees from the company that operated the cable car are being investigated in connection with the incident.
Earlier this year, a technician admitted to installing a fork-shaped bracket to deactivate the emergency brake, which was reportedly malfunctioning.
However, a cable car expert claims that earlier videos he shot in 2014 show that the emergency brake was already disabled.