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Swissair trial draws to a close

Switzerland's biggest corporate trial, investigating the collapse of national carrier Swissair, is winding up.

The entire board and several of the top bosses of the failed airline have been in the dock for two months, facing charges of fraud and mismanagement. The bankruptcy of Swissair, seen as a proud symbol of Swiss values, shocked the country five years ago. What remained of the airline was merged with regional carrier Crossair, and later bought by Germany's Lufthansa.

The panel of three judges will now have several weeks to consider 4,500 documents before delivering a verdict. In the dock were some of the most powerful and, at one time, most respected members of Switzerland's business community. Most of the defendants chose to remain silent during the trial.

The BBC's Switzerland correspondent, Imogen Foulkes, said the trial saw only rare moments of drama, with a tearful former chief executive officer, for example, waving sheets of paper which he claimed proved his innocence. The prosecution has asked for a prison sentence for him. The rest face big fines and suspended sentences. Some observers say no one is likely to go to prison, though, because, as one put it, while huge mistakes were almost certainly made, stupidity and arrogance, even on this grand scale, are not actually crimes. (BBC Nesw)