A Milan court has ruled that two former auditors of collapsed Italian food giant Parmalat should stand trial over their alleged role in the affair.
Parmalat products are found on most Italian breakfast tables
The pair, former Grant Thornton employees Maurizio Bianchi and Lorenzo Penca, face market-rigging charges.
They had asked to be tried under fast-track procedures in return for possible reduced sentences.
The court later adjourned before deciding whether 27 other accused individuals would also stand trial.
The case against Mr Bianchi and Mr Penca, the first executives to stand trial over the Parmalat affair, is expected to begin in January.
When the preliminary hearing resumes on 29 October, the court must decide whether 27 others, including Parmalat founder Calisto Tanzi, should face prosecution.
Also in the dock are three companies - the Italian offices of Bank of America and of audit firms Deloitte & Touche and Grant Thornton.
They are accused of helping a group made up of senior Parmalat managers and a handful of external bankers and auditors to conceal the true state of the company's finances.
IN THE PROSECUTORS' SIGHTS
Calisto Tanzi, founder and ex-chairman
Stefano Tanzi, Tanzi's son
Giovanni Tanzi, Tanzi's brother
Two former Parmalat finance bosses
Bank of America Italian unit
Deloitte & Touche Italian unit
Italian ex-unit of Grant Thornton
All three companies deny wrongdoing.
Bank of America said on Tuesday: "We are confident that this procedure will result in a finding that the facts do not support the administrative charge against Bank of America."
Tuesday's hearing was closely watched by Parmalat shareholders, including thousands of small investors, who lost money when the company went into financial meltdown.
"People here are pleasantly surprised, and I think quite impressed, that this is getting underway," the BBC's Rome correspondent, Guto Harri, told World Business Report.
"It is only 10 months since this huge firm - one of the biggest dairy firms in the world - collapsed."
Fall from grace
Parmalat was declared insolvent late last year after it emerged that 4 billion euros (£2.8bn; $4.8bn) it supposedly held in an offshore account did not in fact exist.
The firm's demise sent shock waves through Italy, where its portfolio of top-selling food brands and its position as the owner of leading football club Parma had turned it into a household name.
Now run by court-appointed administrators, the company is attempting to sell off many of its foreign subsidiaries and reduce its workforce as part of a financial restructuring plan.
It has also launched multi-million euro lawsuits against its former banks, alleging that they turned a blind eye to irregularities in its books while its former management was in charge.
Prosecutors are seeking indictments against the following people and companies
Parmalat board members:
Calisto Tanzi, founder and former chairman
Stefano Tanzi, Calisto Tanzi's son
Giovanni Tanzi, Calisto Tanzi's brother
Fausto Tonna, former chief financial officer
Luciano Del Soldato, former chief financial officer
Alberto Ferraris, former chief financial officer
Paola Visconti, Calisto Tanzi's niece
Mario Brughera, former chairman of the board of statutory auditors
Oreste Ferretti, replaced Mario Brughera on 16 December 2003
Parmalat SpA executives:
Deloitte & Touche SpA:
Grant Thornton SpA (now Italaudit SpA):
Lorenzo Penca, chairman of Italian affiliate
Maurizio Bianchi, lead partner on the Parmalat audit
Bank of America:
Luca Sala, former executive
Luis Moncada, former executive
Antonio Luzi, former executive
Gian Paolo Zini
Prosecutors are also seeking indictments against:
Bank of America's Italian unit
Deloitte & Touche SpA
Grant Thornton SpA (now Italaudit SpA)