[JURIST] A Swiss court Thursday cleared nineteen former executives and consultants of the now-defunct Swissair Group [Wikipedia backgrounder] of all charges Thursday in connection with their role in the collapse of the national airline that was once nicknamed the "flying bank" for its financial stability. Presiding judge Andreas Fischer ruled that the prosecution had failed to demonstrate that the defendants acted unreasonably in implementing a reorganization plan approved in March 24, 2001 and also failed to prove that the defendants' actions contributed to the airline's bankruptcy or that they intended to hurt investors. Swissair, approximately 30 percent owned by the Swiss government [official website], became the first major airline to collapse in October 2001 following the September 11 terrorist attacks [JURIST news archive] in the United States.
Swiss prosecutors, who are currently investigating other allegations of executive misconduct in the late-1990s, say they will study the judgment carefully before making a decision on whether to appeal. The former executives and consultants face three separate civil suits involving damages of approximately $490 million. Wenger Plattner [firm website], a Swiss law firm currently handling Swissair's liquidation, estimates that creditors have filed claims totaling $23 billion. AP has more. Bloomberg has additional coverage.