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Posted by on Oct 23, 2012 in International, Law, Society | 5 comments

Manslaughter Verdict For Italian Experts Who Failed To Warn Of Earthquake

It was 2009 when an earthquake claimed 308 lives in and near L’Aquila, Italy. The quake registered 6.3 and had been preceded by months of tremors, leaving local residents wondering whether to evacuate. An Italian Court has now convicted seven prominent scientists of manslaughter for their failure to predict the fatal quake. Each of the convicted scientists faces six years in prison.

The experts were specifically charged with giving “inexact, incomplete and contradictory information” about the series of smaller tremors and whether they should have constituted grounds for an earthquake warning. Among those convicted were some of Italy’s most prominent scientists, including Enzo Boschi, former chief of the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology. He said of his conviction,

“I am dejected, desperate. I thought I would have been acquitted. I still don’t understand what I was convicted of.”

Understanding that earthquakes are not deemed to be reliably predictable, the verdicts have been condemned by scientists worldwide. The American Association for the Advancement of Science called the verdicts and sentences a “complete misunderstanding about the science behind earthquake probabilities.” More here .

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  • Jim Satterfield

    The stupidity started with even bringing this case. Geology is capable of giving a time window in volcanic eruptions in some cases. There is no such ability when it comes to earthquakes. The current state of trying to give warning for earthquakes is such that scientists are working hard just to be able to give warnings measured in single digit minutes. They’re not even there yet.

  • How completely ludicrous. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything so ignorant & stupid.

  • Rcoutme

    When I saw this, I was first appalled. After the initial shock, I was wondering who would ever bother to be a scientist in Italy for the next one hundred years. Now I am thinking that at least there is at least on supposedly advanced nation that hates scientists (and science) more than the USA. I mean, sheesh, at least we don’t jail people for teaching about evolution or anything…oh wait…

  • ordinarysparrow

    That is truly chilling….imprisoned for giving a scientific ‘opinion’….leads me to wonder how often emotion defeats the rational in the Courts?…surely this is about emotionalism more than ignorance?

  • zephyr

    Bizarre and dark ages-ish. I thought Italy was a bit more advanced than this? Agree that it’s “chilling” – this goes to Rcoutme’s concern as well.

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