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Train dispatcher in Germany jailed over crash that killed 12

December 5, 2016 GMT
FILE - In this Feb. 9, 2016 file photo rescue teams work at the site where two trains collided head-on near Bad Aibling, Germany, killing twelve people and injuring 89. On Monday, Dec. 5, 2016 the train dispatcher was sentenced to 3 years and six months in prison because of negligence that led to one of the worst train crashes in German history this year.  (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader, file)
FILE - In this Feb. 9, 2016 file photo rescue teams work at the site where two trains collided head-on near Bad Aibling, Germany, killing twelve people and injuring 89. On Monday, Dec. 5, 2016 the train dispatcher was sentenced to 3 years and six months in prison because of negligence that led to one of the worst train crashes in German history this year.  (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader, file)
FILE - In this Feb. 9, 2016 file photo rescue teams work at the site where two trains collided head-on near Bad Aibling, Germany, killing twelve people and injuring 89. On Monday, Dec. 5, 2016 the train dispatcher was sentenced to 3 years and six months in prison because of negligence that led to one of the worst train crashes in German history this year.  (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader, file)
FILE - In this Feb. 9, 2016 file photo rescue teams work at the site where two trains collided head-on near Bad Aibling, Germany, killing twelve people and injuring 89. On Monday, Dec. 5, 2016 the train dispatcher was sentenced to 3 years and six months in prison because of negligence that led to one of the worst train crashes in German history this year. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader, file)
FILE - In this Feb. 9, 2016 file photo rescue teams work at the site where two trains collided head-on near Bad Aibling, Germany, killing twelve people and injuring 89. On Monday, Dec. 5, 2016 the train dispatcher was sentenced to 3 years and six months in prison because of negligence that led to one of the worst train crashes in German history this year. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader, file)

BERLIN (AP) — A train dispatcher was convicted of negligent homicide and bodily harm on Monday over his role in the collision of two commuter trains in southern Germany earlier this year that killed 12 people and injured nearly 90. He was sentenced to 3½ years in prison.

The dispatcher, identified only as Michael P. in line with German privacy laws, has admitted playing a game on his phone shortly before the two trains he was in charge of collided on a single-track line on Feb. 9 near Bad Aibling, about 60 kilometers (40 miles) southeast of Munich.

He then set signals incorrectly and hit the wrong button while trying to alert the train drivers.

“His thoughts were fixated on this game,” presiding Judge Erich Fuchs said as he delivered the ruling at the state court in Traunstein, news agency dpa reported. “He had no resources left over for operational procedures.”

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Fuchs added that the defendant was not a bad person “but first and foremost became a victim of his own passion for games.”

Prosecutors sought a four-year sentence, while the defense called for two years at most. The court cited as an aggravating factor the fact that the defendant had been playing games during working hours in the weeks running up to the crash, with increasing intensity.