Russian architect Vitaly Kaloyev has his sentence reduced

A Russian architect who killed an air traffic controller after losing his wife and two children has had his sentence reduced by almost three years.

The Superior Court in the canton of Zurich ruled that Vitaly Kaloyev will only have to serve five and a quarter years instead of the eight years he was originally sentenced to for the premeditated homicide of Danish-born Peter Nielsen.

Zurich prosecutor Ulrich Weder told The Associated Press he would appeal the reduction of the sentence to the Federal Tribunal Switzerland's highest court.

Nielsen, an air traffic controller with Swiss company Skyguide, was the only person on duty when two planes collided almost exactly five years ago in airspace he was responsible for over southern Germany, killing 71 people.

One of the planes was carrying Russian schoolchildren on a holiday trip to Spain. The other was a DHL cargo jet.

Kaloyev was found guilty in October 2005 of stabbing Nielsen to death, but his sentence was later appealed and returned to the Superior Court for reexamination.

The Superior Court's ruling took into account Kaloyev's diminished responsibility because of the death of his wife and children.

Kaloyev has acknowledged that he must have killed Nielsen in February 2004, but said he could not remember the slaying.

Separate court proceedings are ongoing against eight Skyguide employees to determine who is responsible for the crash. A decision is expected in September.

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