The trial of Calisto Tanzi, founder of scandal-hit Italian dairy giant Parmalat, and other former company executives has opened in Milan.
It comes almost two years after a black hole of 14bn euros ($17bn; £9.5bn) was found in the firm’s accounts.
Mr Tanzi and 15 others are charged with market rigging, misleading Italy’s stock market regulator, and providing false accounting information.
The case sent shockwaves through Italy where Parmalat is a household name.
Crowds of investors who had lost money because of the scandal gathered outside the court as the hearing began.
Inside the building, the courtroom was packed, despite the fact that Mr Tanzi and most of his fellow defendants had exercised their right not to be present.