Was it criminal malpractice?

Fonction NEWS

In the biggest action ever brought against this country's business elite, the Swissair board of directors faced charges of damaging creditors, mismanagement, making false statements and forgery.

In an eight-week trial ending March 9 in Zurich, they in turn blamed 9/11 and the major banks for a climate in which the airline wouldn't fly.

Verdicts are expected in May, after judges review the raft of 4,500 case files.

Lead prosecutor Christian Weber charged that creditors paid the price when SAirLines and its money-losing fleet of smallish carriers were favoured to the detriment of profitable parts of parent company SAirGroup.

But bad management isn't punishable. Defendants must have broken the law in the process. Weber has requested six months in jail for then CEO Mario Corti, and suspended sentences of up to 18 months for the other 18 defendants. All could face high fines.

'Storm winds'

In a trial where defendants pleaded not guilty then, almost en masse, declined to answer questions, Corti captivated listeners by protesting his innocence outside court.

"I did not design this boat, I arrived on board as storm winds began to blow," he said, voice breaking with emotion.

"But I went down with the ship ... The prosecution charges me with false management and economically criminal acts, but I invested all of...

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