Italian scientists guilty of manslaughter from earthquake

Craig Lloyd - Oct 22, 2012
Italian scientists guilty of manslaughter from earthquake

The 6.3-magnitude earthquake that killed 309 people in the city of L’Aquila in Italy almost four years ago is probably still embedded into people’s minds, and it wasn’t an easy day for a lot of people. And now, six Italian scientists are just now being sentenced to jail time because they are accused of providing false assurance to residents before the earthquake occurred.

A regional court in Italy found the six members of the National Commission for the Forecast and Prevention of Major Risks guilty of multiple manslaughter. Their defense was that there is no way to predict major earthquakes, and thus are being accused of providing false information when you can’t even tell if the information is true or false in the first place.

Judge Marco Billi took over four hours to reach his verdict, and his final decision was that the scientists provided “inexact, incomplete and contradictory” information about the tremors that were felt before the earthquake occurred. The judge also ordered the defendants to pay court costs and damages in full.

Many people are calling foul on this court case, especially fellow scientists, who now feel that science itself has been put on trial. More than 5,000 scientists have already signed an open letter to Italy’s president Giorgio Napolitano stating their support for the defendants, and how the court wrongly accused the six scientists.

[via BBC]

Image via Flickr

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