Murder clouds skies over Zurich airport
swissinfo February 25, 2004 12:35 PM
The victim was on duty on the night of the ï¿½berlingen crash The Swiss air traffic control agency, Skyguide, has scaled back flights over the Zurich area by 40 per cent after one of its controllers was stabbed to death on Tuesday.
Skyguide says the controller was on duty during the fatal collision of two planes in Swiss airspace in July 2002; a possible link between the two incidents is being investigated.
Air traffic controller admits failure of system
Skyguide starts to pay crash victim families
Skyguide said flights had been scaled back temporarily out of consideration for staff and to ensure security.
Take-offs and landings at Zurich airport are also affected.
"Skyguide employees are in a state of shock and fury and are deeply shaken by the murder of their colleague and friend," the company said in a statement.
Skyguideï¿½s director, Alain Rossier, told swissinfo that the incident had also affected other European airports.
ï¿½I heard this morning that some controllers in places like Denmark could not go to work today,ï¿½ Rossier said.
According to the police, the 36-year-old air traffic controller was stabbed after an exchange of words with an unidentified man speaking in broken German.
"We are looking for a man aged around 55... all we know is that he couldn't speak German well and had an accent," public prosecutor Pascal Gossner told swissinfo.
"The police now have a lot of work to do... the neighbours and the victim's relatives will have to be questioned and information has to be gathered," he added.
The victim, who has not been named, died at the scene after his attacker escaped on foot.
The authorities say they are investigating a possible link between the 2002 crash ï¿½ in which 71 people, mainly Russian, died - and the stabbing.
A lawyer representing the parents of the dead said his clients were distressed by news of a possible connection.
"We reject any violent act... The families do not want to be associated with this," said Gerrit Wilmans.
The Danish victim had lived in Switzerland for seven years and was the father of three children.
A plane belonging to Bashkirian Airlines was carrying a large number of Russian schoolchildren to Spain on July 1, 2002, when it collided with a DHL cargo plane over ï¿½berlingen in southern Germany.
Swiss air traffic control gave confusing instructions to the Russian pilot, which contributed to the crash.
The Russian pilot followed the controllerï¿½s instructions to descend, despite onboard equipment telling him to climb, leading the aircraft to collide with the cargo plane, which was also descending.
Two weeks after the tragedy, the unidentified controller admitted in a statement that network errors had been to blame.
The Federal Office for Civil Aviation moved him to other duties after a period of psychological treatment.
Skyguide later came under heavy criticism when it emerged that only one person was on duty during the night of the crash.
Late last year, the first compensation payouts reached a number of victimsï¿½ families after Skyguide negotiated an out-of-court settlement with some relatives.
Talks are continuing with the relatives of other victims over compensation packages.
The German authorities are still investigating the ï¿½berlingen tragedy; their report is expected later this year.
Swiss Probe Russian Revenge In Air Traffic Murder
February 25, 2004
The killer of the Zurich air traffic controller on duty when dozens of Russian children died in a mid-air collision was on the run on Wednesday from Swiss police who think revenge may have been the knifeman's motive.
The 36-year-old died when a burly, black-clad man speaking broken German stabbed him at his home in the suburb of Kloten on Tuesday after a brief exchange of words, police said.
"(Revenge) cannot be ruled out. We are looking into whether there is a link between the killing and the air accident," public prosecutor Pascal Gossner said. The collision over southern Germany in summer 2002 killed 71 people in all.
On Wednesday, colleagues cut back air traffic by 40 percent to ensure grief-stricken staff could maintain flight safety. Officials stepped up protection for a second controller on duty on the night of the crash as well as for other staff.
The dead controller, who was not named, was in charge of traffic over Lake Constance late on July 1, 2002 when a holiday charter carrying more than 50 Russian children collided in the darkness with a DHL cargo jet above the town of Ueberlingen.
Pressed on whether the murder might be an act of vengeance on behalf of bereaved families in the oil-rich, mainly Muslim region of Bashkiria, prosecutor Gossner said: "You have to say he spoke broken German. But you cannot say he was from Russia. This is really speculation."
A lawyer pressing compensation claims for parents of the dead said his clients were distressed by such a connection being made: "We reject any violent act... The families do not want to be associated with this," Gerrit Wilmans said.
A police spokesman said a link to the crash was a "central issue" in the hunt for the powerfully built assailant, aged about 50, who fled on foot. But Gossner added: "We are also looking into the personal circumstances of the victim."
The prosecutor said investigators had some witness testimony. Police said the wanted man sported heavy stubble.
The killing sent shockwaves through the close-knit community of air traffic controllers, who came in for heavy criticism over a collision in the almost empty night-time skies over Europe.
"You'll Never Walk Alone" read a card attached to flowers sent by colleagues and placed outside the small, pink-washed suburban apartment house where the victim lived and died.
"The murder has been a huge shock across Europe. Quite a few flight controllers did not turn up for work," the head of the Swiss air traffic agency, Skyguide, told a news conference.
A quarter of Zurich staff failed to report for work on Wednesday. But chief executive Alain Rossier blamed bad weather for most of the morning's delays at Zurich Airport.
At times close to tears, he said the dead man was "a long-time employee of Skyguide who was very competent and professional".
Accident investigators found only one controller was on duty as the other took a break, that a collision alert system was out of action for maintenance and work on the telephones meant a warning from German colleagues never got through.
Initial suggestions from Switzerland that the pilots of the Bashkirian Airlines Tupolev 154 might have erred in flying into the Boeing 757 cargo plane operated by the DHL courier firm added to anger in Russia at the role played by the controllers.
Families of crew were compensated by Skyguide recently but negotiations with most of the children's relatives were still going on, lawyers and a Skyguide spokeswoman said.
AV Web reports today:
quote:Thing is, according to AV Web, the name of the controller was never revealed to the public.
Update today, suspect arrested- man lost, 3 MEMBERS of his family in that terrible collision. From Swissinfo:
Thursday 26.02.2004, CET 17:14
Murder suspect lost family in air crash
swissinfo February 26, 2004 4:43 PM
Police say a man arrested over the killing of an air traffic controller lost three members of his family in a fatal crash in Swiss-controlled airspace.
The victim was on duty when 71 people, mostly Russian children, died in the mid-air collision in July 2002.
The suspect, a 48-year-old man, was arrested close to the town of Kloten near Zurich on Wednesday night. Police have refused to disclose his nationality.
They said the suspect had been questioned and had denied stabbing the controller to death.
"He was calm; he denied having done the deed," Zurich prosecutor Pascal Gossner told swissinfo.
"But he gave the impression that he had not come to terms with the death of his daughter, son and wife who died in the accident."
More of this tragic story at:
Grieving father held for killing
Swiss police say a man they arrested over the killing of a Swiss air traffic controller lost three members of his family in a mid-air collision.
They say the suspect's wife, son and daughter died in the accident over southern Germany two years ago.
Seventy-one people - mostly Russian children - died when a Russian charter plane collided with a cargo jet.
The man, believed to be Russian, denies stabbing the controller to death at his home near Zurich on Tuesday.
The controller - a 36-year-old Danish national - was in charge of air traffic over Lake Constance at the time of the crash in July 2002.
He was attacked and died on his doorstep, in front of his wife.
Agency blamed for crash
Hundreds of Swiss police were involved in the hunt for a man they described as burly, in his early 50s who spoke "broken German".
Train stations, roads and airports were watched.
Colleagues of the controller - at the Swiss air traffic agency Skyguide - were in shock at the killing and protection was stepped up for other members of staff.
Skyguide was criticised for its role in the tragedy after investigators revealed that only the one controller was on duty when the collision happened. His partner had been on a break.
Accident investigators said the controller told the pilot of the Russian plane to descend when its onboard collision warning equipment was telling it to climb.
The victims included 52 Russian schoolchildren, most of them sons and daughters of the wealthy elite of the republic of Bashkortostan in the southern Urals region.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2004/02/26 14:29:07 GMT
Tuesday 02.03.2004, CET 18:32
March 2, 2004 6:22 PM
Murder suspect moved
The suspect in the murder of an air traffic controller has been moved from jail to a psychiatric clinic.
Vitaly Kaloyev has been held in detention since last Wednesday over the stabbing of the controller, who was on duty at the time of a fatal collision in Swiss-controlled airspace over Lake Constance in 2002.
The 48-year-old Russian, who lost his wife and two children in the crash, was moved to the clinic because of the risk he might commit suicide, police said.
Russian embassy officials said they would pay their first visit to Kaloyev on Tuesday.
What a tragic situation for all involved:
March 5, 2004 3:39 PM
Minute of silence
Air traffic controllers in Switzerland have interrupted work briefly in memory of a colleague who was killed last month.
Staff at the country's four main airports in Zurich, Geneva, Basel and Lugano delayed flight take-offs for one minute.
Controllers in other European countries joined the work stoppage which coincided with the funeral service for the killed controller.
The national air traffic control agency, Skyguide, said the aim of the symbolic action was also to commemorate the deaths of 71 victims of a midair collision near Lake Constance in 2002.
Last week Swiss police arrested a man suspected of killing the controller who was on duty at the time of the crash.
The suspect lost his wife and two children in the disaster.
It appears that the suspect who lost his entire family in this tragedy and may have murdered the air traffic controller has partially confessed. Apparently he claims he went to the air traffic controller's home to get an apology. Note that though the article is about this terrible tragedy the press inserts a sentence about compensation. Bizarre. Just awful for all involved.
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