Israeli family is trying to prevent the boy from returning to Italy

Tel Aviv, Israel — An Israeli family requested the Court of Appeals on Thursday to suspend the return of a six-year-old boy who survived a cable accident in Italy to his relatives.

There was no immediate ruling in the case surrounding Eitan Vilan, who was at the center of a fierce custody battle between Italian and Israeli relatives. This week, an Italian judge issued an international arrest warrant to the boy’s grandfather, who took Eitan to Israel on a private jet in September.

Eitan’s parents and young siblings were one of 14 dead when the cable car crashed into the hillsides of northern Italy in May. Both his maternal grandparents in Israel and his paternal relatives in Italy seek custody.

Last month, an Israeli court ordered the boy to return to his Italian relatives, stating that it was “his usual place of residence.” He also ordered his grandfather, Shmuel Pereg, who took him to Israel against the wishes of his Italian family, to pay about $ 20,000 and legal fees.

Eitan Vilan's grandfather, Shmuel Peleg
Eitan Vilan’s grandfather, Schmlick Peleg, who killed his immediate family in a cable car crash in Italy, arrived in Tel Aviv’s court on November 11, 2021. (AP photo / Ariel Charit)

Peleg lawyer Ronen Daryaf told reporters outside the courtroom that Thursday’s hearing was “very meaningful” and discussed all issues related to the boy’s return to Italy. He said the court had promised a decision “in the next few days.”

“The judge studied the document and reviewed the points, hoping that they will make decisions that will help the well-being of the child over the years,” he said.

Italian family lawyers and relatives left the court without comment.

The grandfather defended his decision to cheer up the boy, saying it was in the best interests of the child. He drove Eitan from Italy to Switzerland without the knowledge of other relatives before flying him to Israel. He has not commented on the Italian arrest warrant.

Eitan’s paternal relatives say he was taken without their knowledge and they filed a legal complaint in Italy seeking his return.

Eitan and his parents lived in Italy at the time of the accident. After being treated for several weeks and released from a hospital in Turin, Italian juvenile court officials ruled that the child would live with his paternal aunt, Aya Vilan, near Pavia in northern Italy.

In a previous ruling, a Tel Aviv family court stated that Eitan’s residence was in Italy and his family moved when he was only a month old. She concluded that his migration to Israel was illegal and violated the rights of his aunt’s guardian.

The judge also called on the family to reconcile, saying it would benefit the boy.

Associated Press