Eight air traffic controllers are due to go on trial for manslaughter and negligence over a mid-air collision five years ago that killed 71 people, most of them Russian school-children. The eight employees of the traffic control firm Skyguide say they intend to plead innocent. They face possible prison terms of up to 15 months. The trial is expected to last two weeks. Skyguide last year acknowledged responsibility for the disaster and offered to pay compensation to the victims’ families.
The Russian charter flight carrying the children to a holiday in Spain collided with a cargo plan in Swiss airspace, though the wreckage came down in Germany. Investigators have determined that on the night of the collision in July 2002 a single air controller was in charge and lacked essential communications and radar systems. He was later stabbed to death by the father of two of the children who died.