An Israeli businessman in Cyprus has been released on bail following a preliminary hearing for his extradition to Italy, where he has been implicated in the abduction of a young boy who survived a cable car disaster but was caught in a cross-border custody battle ever since.
A Limassol district judge on Monday ordered 50-year-old Gabriel Abutbul Alon to be released on bail until December 2, when his extradition hearing is set to begin in connection with a kidnapping case following a cable car disaster in Italy.
Italian prosecutors are accusing Alon of playing a role in the abduction of 6-year-old Eitan Biran, a dual Italian-Israeli citizen, who lost both of his parents and brother in the accident near Lake Maggiore back in the summer.
Prosecutors claim suspect linked to Blackwater
The prosecutors also allege that Alon, an Israeli businessman living and working in Cyprus, is “probably” connected to military contractor Blackwater and had been sought out to help in the abduction by providing “the use of military and intelligence techniques.”
Alon is described by prosecutors as the man who drove 6-year-old Biran and 58-year-old Israeli national Shmuel Peleg, the boy’s grandfather, to an airport in Switzerland as part of an orchestrated plan to fly them to Israel back in September while the child was in the legal custody of his aunt in Italy.
'I am willing to be interrogated in Israel and give my testimony to the police investigators that will prove that I was not on the plane while the grandfather and grandson were on it'
Peleg had flown to Italy for a court-ordered visit in Pavia before whisking his grandson away while Alon, who denies ever taking part in the unlisted flight, says he is ready to talk to Israeli authorities.
“I was not on the plane at all. This is injustice. I am willing to be interrogated in Israel and give my testimony to the police investigators that will prove that I was not on the plane while the grandfather and grandson were on it,” Alon told Israeli media before his arrest in Cyprus.
Alon was arrested in Limassol last week after his mobile phone was traced to a location said to have been a local hotel. After appearing before a judge on Friday, his hearing was pushed back to Monday due to lack of time to review evidence and was subsequently released after paying a €200,000 bond and having his name added to a stop list.
He is facing multiple kidnapping charges including, abduction and false imprisonment of a minor abroad, as well as disobeying a judge’s orders. Alon’s next hearing in Limassol has been scheduled for December 2.
An Israeli court ordered Peleg to hand the kid over to Italian authorities but the case has been made more complex after the ruling was challenged in a higher court.