Murderer of air traffic controller not to go free early

The federal court of Switzerland has postponed the release of a Russian citizen, jailed for the murder of a Swiss air traffic controller. Vitaly Kaloyev was sentenced to eight years for the murder of a SkyGuide employee in 2004, who was on duty when Kaloy

Recently the cantonal court of Zurich revealed that Kaloyev could be released on August 24, due to the mitigating circumstances of loosing his family, and the fact that he has already served 2/3 of his term.

But the prosecutor strongly objected. He argued the sentence should not have been reduced in the first place without additional consideration. He appealed the ruling in Switzerland’s Highest Court and as a result the release was delayed. So, Mr Kaloyev is not going to get early release on Friday, but will remain in jail until the court examines the appeal filed by the prosecutor.

It is not clear yet how long that will take. 

According to his lawyer, Markus Hug, Mr Kaloyev has taken the news calmly, saying “we’ve lost the battle, but haven’t lost the war”.

“We’d wanted to file another complaint to revise certain things. We have now retreated from that so the case can go straight to the federal court. I expect a decision within two or three months,” the lawyer commented.

Monument on the grave of Kaloyev's family
Monument on the grave of Kaloyev's family
«»We are very disappointed about the decision, especially about its reasoning. Not only will he remain in custody temporarily until the custody appeal has been decided on, but he will actually have to stay in prison till the very end of the process," Mr Hug added.

Not surprisingly, Kaloyev’s relatives are also very disappointed with the court’s decision.
His elder brother was even planning to come to Switzerland to pick him up. He thinks the federal court’s decision to postpone the release is “unfair”.

“Those who caused this catastrophe were sentenced to 6-15 months in a suspended sentence. Is this logical? We can’t figure it out.  We were very grateful to the cantonal court as they were really unbiased in their ruling. Still, we hope that common sense will prevail. This man went through so much suffering. He’s virtually an invalid now, he’s got health problems. You can’t treat him like this,” Yury Kaloyev, Vitaly’s brother, said.

Vitaly Kaloyev sees the murder of SkyGuide employee, Peter Nielsen, as his second tragedy. The first one took place on July 2, 2002, when a Russian passenger liner and a cargo plane collided over Lake Bodenzee in Germany, killing 71 people aboard. Among them – Kaloyev's family: his wife, son and daughter who was just four years old.

Peter Nielsen was controlling sky traffic that night.  Desperate and overwhelmed with grief, Kaloyev later killed Peter Nielsen.
 
In 2005 Vitaly Kaloyev was sentenced by a Swiss court to eight years in prison for the murder. This July, however, the term was reduced to five years and three months.  The Zurich court ruled that Kaloyev be released on August 24. A decision the prosecution considered ‘too lenient’.
 
“A particularly cruel and extremely brutal crime has been committed here, in a killing of this air-traffic controller. And considering Swiss customs on bringing sentences I believe that a five-and-a-quarter year sentence is very, very mild when taking all the factors into account,” believes prosecutor Ulrich Weder.

Those who caused this catastrophe were sentenced to 6-15 months in a suspended sentence. Is this logical? We can’t figure it out.  We were very grateful to the cantonal court as they were really unbiased in their ruling. Still, we hope that common sense will prevail.

Yury Kaloyev, Vitaly's brother

The Supreme Court announced on Wednesday that Kaloyev would have to remain in prison. 
 
Vitaly’s relatives, who were hopeful to see him free on Friday, do not conceal their disappointment. They have repeatedly said he has suffered a lot and that could be seen as mitigating circumstances.
 
“For two years he didn't leave the cemetery, crying all day long. Nobody took into account the delicate mental condition he was in,” says Vitaly’s brother Yury Kaloyev.

In the meantime separate court proceedings are ongoing against eight SkyGuide employees to determine who was responsible for the crash. The verdict is expected on September 4.

But it looks unlikely Vitaly Kaloyev’s fate will be decided by then.