Truth behind air tragedy uncovered

Vitaly Kaloyev, a Russian citizen jailed in Switzerland will be back home in about a week. He was imprisoned in 2004 for killing an air traffic controller he blamed for the death of his wife and two children in a plane crash in 2002. The tragic story was

On Thursday, a court ruled Vitaly Kaloyev will be freed before the end of his term.

On July 1, 2002 a Russian passenger plane collided with a DHL cargo plane over southern Germany, killing 71 people, including 49 children.

Ariane Perret, the author
Ariane Perret, the author

Ariane Perret devoted years of her life to finding out the truth behind the tragedy and her investigation has become a book.

She says she uncovered incompetence, insensitivity and impunity.

“What struck me most was the fact that if the victims had been, for example, American children, the Swiss authorities would have reacted differently. The Swiss authorities showed a lack of empathy,” the author said.

After the crash, SkyGuide, the air traffic control company responsible tried to shift the blame.

Peter Nielsen, the controller on duty at the time of the collision, was made a scapegoat.

Many say that the mass media, Russian and other, were guilty of irresponsibe reporting in portraying him as the perpetrator of the disaster.

As a result, Nielsen was stabbed to death by Vitaly Kaloyev, who was later sentenced to eight years in prison for the murder.

Now, with the early release of the Russian, Ariane reflects on the tragic case.

Vitaly Kaloyev
Vitaly Kaloyev

“He asked many times to meet Alain Rossier, the director of SkyGuide, but every time he was rebuffed. Then something happened that turned him in to a murderer. What he did was terrible, but he acted on extreme emotions due to the tragic loss he'd suffered and the awful way he was treated,” she said.

In September, the last trials of SkyGuide employees were completed. Several of those in middle management positions were found guilty of negligence and manslaughter.

However, Ariane says she’s still bothered that the head of the company at the time of the disaster walked away scot-free. SkyGuide argued he had nothing to do with it.

Vitaly Kaloyev said that all he’d wanted was for someone to say sorry, but no one did.