Cyprus police on Friday confirmed the arrest of an Israeli alleged to have been involved in the kidnapping of six-year-old Eitan Biran from Italy to Israel, daily Corriere della Sera reported.
The man identified as Gabriel Abutbul Alon, 50, is believed to have aided Shmuel Peleg the maternal grandfather of the child, to abduct Eitan.
Alon was reportedly apprehended after an international arrest warrant was issued for his role as an accomplice in the child’s kidnapping.
He is believed to have helped Peleg abduct the child from Italy, where he was staying after surviving the cable car tragedy that killed his immediate family.
Six-year-old Eitan was the sole survivor of the freak accident on the Stresa–Mottarone cable car near Lake Maggiore in northern Italy in which his parents and younger brother died back in May this year. A total of 14 people had lost their lives in the crash.
This kicked off a custody battle which saw Italian juvenile court officials ruled the child would live with a paternal aunt, Aya Biran, near Pavia, in northern Italy.
Following the alleged abduction, a Tel Aviv court in October also ordered the 6-year-old be returned to his relatives in Italy where he would remain in the custody of his paternal aunt.
The judge recognised her as a legitimate temporary guardian based on a ruling by an Italian court and said Peleg had “unlawfully” removed the boy from his aunt’s care.
As reported in Italian and Israeli media, Peleg whisked Eitan away from his paternal aunt’s home and took him to Israel on a private jet in September with the assistance of Alon, in violation of the local court order.
According to Corriere Della Sera, warrants had been issued for Peleg as well as for Alon, a “contractor” who apparently drove the vehicle used to take Peleg and his grandson from Italy to neighbouring Switzerland, from where they were flown to Israel with a private jet.
In an interview earlier, Peleg defended his decision to take the child to Israel, saying it was in his best interest, and denying he kidnapped the boy.