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Train dispatcher admits hitting wrong signal in crash trial


    Defendant Michael P. covers his face as he arrives in a courtroom in Traunstein, southern Germany.

BERLIN >> A German train dispatcher charged with 12 counts of negligent homicide and 89 counts of causing bodily harm in the collision of two commuter trains earlier this year admitted Thursday to hitting the wrong signal buttons, news agency dpa reported.

The dispatcher, identified only as Michael P. in line with German privacy laws, made the confession at the opening of his trial at the regional court in Traunstein, dpa reported.

Michael P. said in a statement to the families of the victims that he knows he is guilty and that while he couldn’t undo what had happened he wanted to tell the families that “in my thoughts I am with you.”

Prosecutors have said the dispatcher is suspected of 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 the Bavarian town of Bad Aibling, which is about 60 kilometers (40 miles) southeast of Munich.

The dispatcher is accused of having played the phantasy game “Dungeon Hunter 5” on his smartphone until shortly before the crash, dpa reported. When asked about his online game habits at the trial, the accused didn’t answer, dpa reported.

The dispatcher has been in custody since April.

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