Early release possible for SkyGuide controller murderer

A Russian man sentenced to eight years in a Swiss prison for the killing of a Swiss air traffic controller, may be returning home. A Zurich court is considering releasing Vitaly Kaloyev on parole.

In 2002 he murdered Peter Nielsen, the air traffic controller working at the time of the collision, which killed 71 people, including Kaloyev's wife and two children.

Zoya Kaloyeva’s phone is ringing constantly. Everyone is calling to discuss the news: there's a possiblity Zoya’s brother Vitaly may be released from a Swiss prison early.

“It’s the happiest day for us. And a sad day too. He will return but to nobody’s home. Only empty walls,” says Zoya Kaloeva.

Vitaly’s family admits he killed a man. But they say it was a crime committed by a man in enormous pain, a father and a husband who lost everything.

Vitaly Kaloyev’s relatives say the first place he’s going to visit is a cemetery in the outskirts of the Ossetian capital. The man has been waiting for years to be able to visit the graves of his wife and two children.

In 2002 a passenger jet and a cargo plane collided in the skies over the Boden Lake in Germany, killing 71 people, most of them children from Russia. Air crash investigators held air traffic control management responsible for the error. Vitaly Kaloyev’s family died in that crash. Severely depressed, Kaloyev murdered Peter Nielsen, the traffic control manager he blamed for the death of his loved ones. 

In October 2005, the Swiss court sentenced Vitaly Kaloyev to eight years in prison. In July this year, the sentence was cut. Now a Zurich court has decided to release the man on parole. While the prosecution is appealing against the decision to the Swiss Supreme Court, Kaloev's lawyer, Markus Hug, says there could be a number of outcomes from the appeals court.

“On Monday the prosecutor is expected to appeal to the Swiss Supreme Court against the decision to release Kaloyev. Two options are available after this. The court will either accept the appeal and Kaloyev will remain in prison till the end of his sentence or will reject the appeal. In that case, Kaloyev will be set free,” commented Markus Hug.

Vitaly Kaloyev’s relatives are sure: as far as they're concerned the man has paid for his crime and should be released. If the judges decide the same, in a week or two he’ll be able to return home.