Swiss prosecutor urges to convict Russian man of killing of air traffic controller

Swiss prosecutors Tuesday urged a Zurich court to convict a Russian man of stabbing the air traffic controller he believed was responsible for the death of his wife and two children in a mid-air collision crash and sentence him to 12 years' imprisonment.

Prosecutors say Vitaly Kaloyev killed the controller as revenge for his role in the July 2002 crash over southern Germany, an area run by air traffic control authorities in Zurich. The court case began Tuesday and a verdict is expected late Wednesday.

Danish-born controller Peter Nielsen, 36, was on duty alone on the day two planes collided over southern Germany, an area run by air traffic control authorities in Zurich. Nielsen reportedly gave only 44 seconds' warning to a Bashkirian Airlines plane and a DHL cargo aircraft that they were getting too close to each other. He told the Russian plane to descend sending the jetliner straight into the cargo jet.

The crash killed 71 people, including Kaloyev's wife and children, the AP reports.

Nielsen died of multiple stab wounds in front of his wife in his back yard in February 2004. The attacker was described as a heavily built man aged 50-55, possibly Eastern European, who showed up at Nielsen's Zurich-area home, spoke briefly to the controller in broken German, then killed him before fleeing.

The link was almost immediately made to the crash.

Kaloyev, 49, has been held since his arrest in a psychiatric ward for fear that he might attempt to commit suicide. A.M.

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