Ex-CEO Didier Lombard with six other former executives and the company itself, are accused of moral harassment in the first case of its kind on this scale in France, setting a potential precedent for large businesses.

The incident was a traumatic episode that shocked the nation and raised questions over corporate culture.

The trial in Paris’ criminal court, is expected to run from May to July.

Prosecutors believed this plan triggered the wave of suicides, as between April 2008 and June 2010, prosecutors listed 18 suicides and 13 suicide attempts by employees of Orange, still called France Telecom at the time, when the company was engaged in deep restructuring after its privatisation.

Mr. Lombard, who denied any wrongdoing, stepped down as CEO of Orange in early 2010 amid criticism of his handling of the crisis.

The former CEO and the other former executives risk two years in prison and a 34,000 dollars fine if found guilty.