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No jail for controllers convicted in plane crash.

Four air traffic controllers for Swiss SkyGuide were spared jail time on being convicted of negligent homicide in the midair plane crash that killed 71 people, mostly Russian schoolchildren, in July 2002.

In September, a district court near the Zurich airport sentenced three middle managers identified only by their initials to 12-month suspended sentences for contributing to the chain of errors that put a Russian Tupolev 154 airliner on a collision course with a DHL jet south of Uberlingen, Germany.

Contributing factors were cited as short-staffing, human error, and an inoperative radar screen and emergency phone in the Zurich tower.

A fourth manager who, according to judge Rainer Hohler, should have informed German traffic controllers about the defective phone, was fined SFr 13,500. Armed guards patrolled the courthouse amid fears of a repeat of the fatal 2004 stabbing attack by a grieving Russian parent on Peter Nielsen, the air traffic controller on duty on the night of the accident.

Parents welcomed the guilty findings, but said the managers should have been named.
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Publication:Swiss News
Date:Oct 1, 2007
Words:173
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