Eitan Biran, six, will return to Italy with his aunt Aya Biran on Friday, Italian media reported Thursday.
Earlier in the week, Supreme Court Justice Alex Stein rejected a final appeal by the boy’s maternal grandfather and ordered him to be sent back to Italy by December 12 to live with his aunt, a sister of Eitan’s late father Amit.
Stein’s decision confirmed two lower court decisions despite the November 17 appeal of the grandfather.
A first lower court ruling in favor of Aya Biran came more than a month ago on October 25.
The boy is the sole survivor of a cable car crash in northern Italy in May. He had been brought to Israel by his Israeli grandfather Shmuel Peleg illegally, according to the court.
The crash caused the deaths of 14 people, including Eitan’s father Amit; his mother, Tal Peleg; his one-year-old brother, Tom; and his great-grandparents, Barbara Cohen Konisky and Itshak Cohen.
Earlier this month, the Italian police issued an international arrest warrant against Peleg and another man, Gabriel Abutbul, an Israeli citizen and resident of Cyprus who was in the car with Peleg during the trip. Abutbul was arrested in Cyprus last week and released on bail.
Since late October, Eitan has been living with his aunt, who has remained in Israel.
According to Peleg’s appeal, the lower rulings were faulty because they acted as if the Italian courts had already ruled permanently in favor of the Italian aunt, when they had only granted her temporary custody pending continued legal proceedings.
Further, Peleg argued that the lower courts did not hear all critical evidence for discerning what was in the child’s best interests.
Those courts found that Eitan had deeper ties with, and was more acclimated to, his Italian family and surroundings than with his Israeli family and surroundings.
In addition, the courts said the grandfather had violated the Hague Convention by removing Eitan from Italy without a court ruling.
The Italian court is currently discussing the Peleg family’s request to be assigned custody of Eitan, even though their chances are considered slim, especially after his kidnapping.
Italian authorities had previously assigned Eitan’s custody to his aunt Aya, who is a doctor living in the suburbs of Pavia with her husband, Or, and their two daughters who are around Eitan’s age. Eitan’s paternal grandparents also live nearby.
Eitan’s family moved to Pavia five years ago.
The boy spent most of his life growing up in Italy, and there are indications that the parents planned to remain there, at least for the time being.
The boy’s father took the family to Italy where he went to attend medical school, but there are also signs that if not for the tragedy, the family would have returned to Israel later to raise their children.
Peleg’s lawyers in Italy have acknowledged that he took the boy to Israel, and had “acted on impulse,” as he was worried about his grandson’s health after Peleg was excluded from legal proceedings related to the boy’s custody.
“I have been following this sad story since the beginning,” Pavia’s mayor Fabrizio Fracassi told the Italian daily La Stampa. “I am very happy that the child is coming home.”
Fracassi said that it will be important for the boy and the family to be left alone, protected from the public eye.
“I ask everyone to show respect,” he said. “Eitan needs peace. He needs the love and affection of his new family.”