Swiss Controllers Charged With Manslaughter

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Eight employees of the Swiss Skyguide air navigation service were charged with manslaughter on Monday in connection with the July 2002 midair collision of a Russian Tu-154 airliner and a DHL 757 over Germany that killed 71 people, including 45 Russian schoolchildren. The Russian crew obeyed a controller's advice to descend although the collision avoidance system said to climb. There was only one controller on duty at the time, and he was killed two years ago by a Russian man whose wife and children died in the crash. All the workers charged this week denied any responsibility for the incident. Prosecutors said the workers were guilty of "organizational shortcomings," including the fact that only one controller was on duty, and they failed to provide that controller with information about technical work in progress that decisively affected the communications and radar systems. "In the opinion of the district attorney, the failures to carry out their duties led to the collision and crash of the two aircraft," the statement said, according to The Associated Press. The Russian man who killed the controller was sentenced last year to eight years in prison. Although it's rare that criminal charges are filed in aviation accidents in the U.S., it is more common in Europe.