LONDON (AP) — The prosecution has begun its opening arguments in Britain's first major phone hacking trial since the explosion of the scandal two years ago, kicking off a process that is expected to last up to six months.

Two former senior executives in Rupert Murdoch's media empire — former News of the World editors Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson — and six others face charges stemming from the revelation that employees at the Murdoch-owned tabloid eavesdropped on the phone voicemails of celebrities, politicians, crime victims and others in their search for exclusives.

They all deny the charges.

The hacking scandal led Murdoch to shut the 168-year-old newspaper.

Prosecution lawyer Andrew Edis began his arguments Wednesday by introducing the defendants and telling the jury to ignore the extensive pre-trial publicity.

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