Santa Maria Church in Paganica, damaged by the 2009 L'Aquila earthquake | pablo72 | Wikimedia Commons
By Mark Jurkevich
Six Italian scientists were found guilty of manslaughter by an Italian court for failing to predict the 2009 L’Aquila earthquake.
They were each sentenced to six years in prison, plus damages. They were also ordered to pay the massive court costs, including that of the prosecution, as well as damages. Finally, the guilty scientists were barred from ever holding public office again.
Among those convicted was Enzo Boschi, one of the world’s most respected seismologists, and former head of the Italian National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology.
The Oct. 22 guilty verdict is the culmination of a trial that began in September 2011. The judge deliberated for only four hours before issuing his verdict. Consistent with Napoleonic law used throughout most of continental Europe, a jury was not involved.
More than 300 people perished in the central Italy 6.9 magnitude earthquake. The region resides on an active volcano and earthquake zone.
The 6 convicted scientists were members of the Great Risks Commission, an Italian committee of scientists which evaluates potential for natural disasters. The week before the earthquake, they met to discuss the small earth tremors that had rattled the area for several months.
After the meeting, they issued a statement concluding that a major quake in the near future was improbable, although one could not be excluded. The meeting and statement led to manslaughter charges on grounds that the scientists failed to alert the Aquila population of “an impending major earthquake.” Read more »