ROME — A high court on Monday ruled that a 6-year-old girl who was with her parents and 16 others when a cable car stopped on the Tiber river in central Rome must be returned to her Italian-born parents’ custody within two days or face possible arrest in Italy, the Rome-based civil court said.
Rome prosecutors had asked the court to order the girl, Isabella Lapelli, returned to her native Italy to live with her parents, Mauro and Maria Russo, who are accused of negligence.
In a statement published on the Rome News, a news site, Mauro Russo’s lawyers said the family now planned to appeal the decision.
The cable car had traveled about seven miles from the city center to the forested Montegilio viaduct, where it stopped on April 25, killing five people and injuring several others. It was also three years since Isabella’s grandparent’s death.
The Lapellis are not Italians, but Italy is home to Isabella’s grandparents. Last month, the lawyer for Isabella’s parents told the Italian news site RaiNews24 that Isabella was entitled to Italy’s citizenship and not to being returned to Italy.
On Monday, the Rome court found that it could only order the girl’s return if the Italian parents waived their Italian citizenship, which they did not do.
The two parents’ testimonies about their Italian roots were “not convincing,” according to the ruling. Instead, they spoke only of the importance of family, the lawsuit said.
“The mothers said little and tended to minimize their roles in their children’s life, in addition to various inconclusive statements about their homeland, Italy,” the Rome court said.
The higher court overruled a lower court decision that found that the parents had to lose their Italian citizenship to order the girl’s return to Italy.
“Resolving this case means deciding not only for Isabella and her parents, but for the country,” the court said.
According to the Rome News, the Lapellis were born in Russia, where the parents later lived, then moved to Italy.
In a post on Facebook last month, Maria Russo said she remembered feeling more emotion when she heard of the cable car crash than when her grandfather had died.
“I feel exhausted by the preparation, the waiting and the daily fatigue,” she wrote. “I know this day will arrive and I shall get to know my country again, and I shall be united once again with my country as my father sang.”