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Trial examines Swissair collapse

A painful chapter in Switzerland's recent history will be re-opened on Tuesday when some of the country's top business leaders go on trial.

In dispute, their role in the collapse of Swissair just over five years ago. For 70 years Swissair was one of the world's most successful airlines, regarded as a proud symbol of Swiss efficiency and good business practices. When it went bankrupt in October 2001, there was shock across the country as well as grief and shame. The trial, taking place in Zurich, is one of the biggest of its kind ever to take place anywhere in the world. Five years ago, the planes that once carried the Swiss flag around the world were grounded, thousands of passengers were stranded and Swissair pilots were forced to hand over wads of cash to pay for fuel to get home. Now questions have to be answered. How did a company which had a cash balance of more than $3 billion (€2.3 billion) in the early 1990s go bankrupt just ten years later?

In the dock in Zurich are individuals who were once regarded as the royalty of Swiss business - 19 people, including the entire board of directors of Swissair at the time and its CEO. The charge sheet against them is 100 pages long and includes accusations of false accounting and criminal mismanagement. Many of the charges will be hard to prove. Poor management is not actually a crime. It is thought unlikely any of the accused will actually go to prison. But for ordinary Swiss this trial - expected to last two months - is welcome because it means the people they believe let their country down so badly will finally be held to account. (BBC NEWS)