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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Skyguide Suspect Moved to Swiss Psychiatric Clinic

GENEVA -- The Russian suspect in the slaying of an air traffic controller blamed in an airliner-cargo plane collision has been moved to a psychiatric clinic for fear he might try to commit suicide, the chief investigator said Tuesday.

A team from the Russian Embassy who visited Vitaly Kaloyev in the Rheinau clinic north of Zurich on Tuesday found him to be "somewhat depressed" but in normal health and "responsive," a spokesman said.

Kaloyev, whose wife and two children were killed in the July 1, 2002, collision in Swiss-controlled air space, remains in investigative detention while in the clinic, said Zurich District Attorney Pascal Gossner.

The suspect has been held since last Wednesday in the stabbing the day before of the air traffic controller, a 36-year-old Danish citizen.

The controller, identified in Denmark as Peter Nielsen, was working in the Zurich control room when the collision between a Russian jetliner and a cargo plane occurred in an area of southern Germany for which he was responsible. The accident killed 71 people, including 45 Russian schoolchildren headed for a vacation in Spain.

Kaloyev, a 48-year-old architect from the city of Vladikavkaz, North Ossetia, was building a private house in Spain at the time of the disaster, and his wife and two children were on their way to visit him. He visited the crash site and found his daughter's body almost intact. Gossner said Kaloyev was moved to the clinic on the basis of a psychiatric examination made last Friday.

Two Russian diplomats and an embassy doctor who visited him Tuesday found he was in a single room and had a radio, television and telephone, said embassy spokesman Igor Petrov.

"He asked to see Russian newspapers, and he will get them," Petrov said. "I don't know how long he will stay in the clinic. That depends on what his doctor says and how his condition develops."

"He has the telephone number of the embassy in Bern and will be able to call us in case any problems arise and we will see what we can do," said Petrov.

He said Kaloyev spoke through an interpreter to his court-appointed attorney Tuesday afternoon and noted that he also has asked Berlin lawyer Michael Witti to defend him.

Witti works with the law firm of Gerrit Wilmans and Wolfgang Vehlow of Hamburg, Germany, in representing the families of the crash victims in compensation negotiations with Skyguide, the Swiss company responsible for the air space in which the collision occurred, Gossner added.

It was the first visit to Kaloyev by Russian diplomats, who were officially told of the identity of the suspect Monday, Petrov said.

Gossner made public the identification of Kaloyev on Tuesday, the first time Swiss authorities had confirmed the suspect's name and nationality. Gossner said the identification was based on his passport and other documents, which showed no sign of falsification. Gossner said the investigation was continuing, and that evidence was strengthening.

The controller -- who was on duty alone because a colleague was taking a break -- gave less than a minute's warning to the two planes that they were getting too close.