In their blue blazers and tight haircuts, the aging men look uncomfortable in the courtroom dock. And for good reason: They are accused of harassing employees so relentlessly that workers ended up killing themselves.

The men, all former top executives at France's giant telecom company, wanted to downsize the business by thousands of workers a decade ago. But they couldn't fire most of them. The workers were state employees — employees for life — and therefore protected.

So the executives resolved to make life so unbearable that the workers would leave, prosecutors say. Instead, at least 35 employees — workers'

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