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 .