Russian air controller killer Kaloyev freed - media

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ZURICH, Nov 12 (Reuters) A Russian man convicted of killing an air traffic controller linked to a 2002 mid-air collision was released from jail and would fly back to Russia later today, Swiss media reported.

Vitaly Kaloyev, who lost his wife and children in the crash, had expected to be set free after a Swiss court last week upheld a ruling to cut his sentence to five years and three months, of which he had already served two-thirds.

Swiss teletext quoted a spokesman for the Russian embassy as saying Kaloyev would fly back today evening.

Kaloyev stabbed to death air traffic controller Peter Nielsen, a Skyguide employee on duty the night of the collision between a cargo plane and a Russian charter transporting mostly Russian children on holiday that killed 71 people.

Kaloyev had initially been sentenced to eight years in jail for the killing, but the split verdict said last week he could not be held accountable for his action.

One of the judges told the media that Kaloyev did not come to Switzerland intending to kill Nielsen but had lost control of himself when the man refused to offer apologies after Kaloyev had shown him pictures of his children.

A Swiss court this year found four air traffic control managers guilty of manslaughter over the accident, giving three of them 12-month suspended sentence each and fining the fourth.

Four other employees were acquitted.

Defendants in the trial mainly blamed Nielsen -- who was alone on duty on the night of the accident -- for poorly handling the events leading up to the crash in Swiss-controlled air space over the German town of Ueberlingen.

When the two planes collided, both the main and the backup telephone were out of order, radar software displaying flight coordinates was in a restricted mode and Nielsen's only colleague was on a coffee break.

REUTERS PJ HT0005

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