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Parmalat Hearings Begin - 2004-10-05

A judge in Milan has opened proceedings to decide whether 32 business executives and financial institutions should stand trial for alleged massive fraud at the huge Italian food and dairy company, Parmalat.

Judge Cesare Tacconi launched closed-door hearings Tuesday, but is not expected to make an immediate decision.

Prosecutors have accused 29 Parmalat executives, including former chairman Calisto Tanzi, and three financial companies of covering up the true finances of the multi-national company until debt reached nearly $18 billion last year.

The revelation forced the company to seek bankruptcy protection.