October 23rd, 2012
01:40 AM ET

Scientists aghast after colleagues convicted of manslaughter over Italy quake

Earthquake experts around the world say they are appalled by an Italian court's decision to convict six scientists on manslaughter charges for failing to predict the deadly quake that devastated the city of L'Aquila. They warned the ruling could severely harm future scientific research.

The court in L'Aquila sentenced the scientists and a government official Monday to six years in prison, ruling that they didn't accurately communicate the risk of the earthquake in 2009 that killed more than 300 people.

The trial centered on a meeting a week before the 6.3-magnitude quake struck. At the meeting, the experts determined that it was "unlikely" but not impossible that a major quake would take place, despite concern among the city's residents over recent seismic activity.


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Filed under: Earthquake • Italy • Natural Disasters • Science
soundoff (131 Responses)
  1. kme

    Wow! The justice system employees, in this case, must be mentally crippled or less than 5 years of age.
    This story is so ridiculous that it seems fake.

    October 23, 2012 at 2:14 am | Report abuse |
  2. Peter

    So the experts concluded that it was "unlikely" but not impossible? They didn't say it was impossible and they didn't have any control over nature. This sounds like a medieval withhunt – so backwards. I imagine people in this town are grieving and want someone to blame but maybe they should blame the builders of their homes as 6.3 magnitude isn't the strongest of quakes...

    October 23, 2012 at 2:53 am | Report abuse |
  3. MILF

    Still have a youtube video about a "rogue" Italian scientist that stated the opposite!
    He got in trouble for "unnecessarily allarming" Aquila's population and ended up in deep sh..
    Seems that karma vindicated him! LOL!

    October 23, 2012 at 3:16 am | Report abuse |
  4. Stefano Camilleri

    Medieval! There is no better term to describe this. The bloated and inefficient Italian bureaucracy that is its civil (sic) service is just conducting a witch hunt to cover up its utter failings in the area of building planning nd enforcing of building codes and lack of maintenance.

    This is not much different then the Salem witch hunts of the 16th century

    October 23, 2012 at 3:46 am | Report abuse |
  5. Peace and Love

    Absolutely ABSURD!!

    October 23, 2012 at 3:53 am | Report abuse |
  6. Shaif Yer'Boosh

    You're kidding me right?

    They have little more chance of predicting an earthquake then the Tarot Cards have of predicting an earthquake.

    Send in the Marines, whip some democracy on them.

    October 23, 2012 at 4:08 am | Report abuse |
  7. cadecker

    watch out weather forecasters... YOUR NEXT!!!!!

    October 23, 2012 at 4:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Grammar198989


      October 23, 2012 at 4:22 am | Report abuse |
    • uckermanf

      My next what?

      October 23, 2012 at 4:33 am | Report abuse |
    • John W.

      @Grammar: You pick this guy's post to play English teacher? I'm not sure there is one comment on this thread that doesn't have a spelling or grammatical error.

      October 23, 2012 at 5:02 am | Report abuse |
  8. glcp

    How backwards is that? Guess they needed to blame someone for Mother Nature.

    October 23, 2012 at 4:12 am | Report abuse |
    • MILF

      If it happened in the US, they would've blamed it on Obama.
      The earthquake, not the wrong prediction!

      October 23, 2012 at 4:17 am | Report abuse |
  9. Weather D00D

    Expect the immediate resignation of all Italian meteorologists. You think forecasting weather was bad before....

    October 23, 2012 at 4:13 am | Report abuse |
  10. Giac77

    Nowadays people want in any case a scapegoat. Doesn't matter whom and if they are really guilty. If scientists had declared that the risk of a major earthquake was serious, what would Abruzzo's citizens (over than 1 million) have done? They would have fled from their house for months or years until the quake really would really happened?!
    Up to now NOBODY can forecast with precision if an earthquake would occur and where. This was declared also by the Italy's President few weeks after Abruzzo's earthquake.

    October 23, 2012 at 4:17 am | Report abuse |
  11. Michael Hobart

    This judgement is absurd and shows no understanding of the unpredictable nature of earthquakes – neither when they will occur or their magnitude. This will result in many people with engineering and scientific expertise being unwilling to serve in any public advisory positions in Italy. To be safe they might take the position that all structures in Italy not built adhering to a modern building code updated within the last 20 years should be demolished and replaced. Obviously that won't happen and Italy couldn't afford to do that either, but to minimize building collapses when an earthquake occurs – that is what would have to happen. And the building codes would have to be enforced, no under-the-table deals resulting in substandard construction and lax enforcement.

    October 23, 2012 at 4:17 am | Report abuse |
  12. Chuck Steak

    Are weathermen next?!

    October 23, 2012 at 4:28 am | Report abuse |
  13. david burns

    Now you can tell why Amanda Knox had such an unfair trial there. This is also the country that took the father's baby away from him after his Italian wife sneaked out of the country with their son. He went through misery fighting the Italian court system.

    October 23, 2012 at 4:31 am | Report abuse |
    • trollol

      Between the mother and father, if the the baby has to go with one or the other, the logical choice would be the mother. After all, men can't breast feed a child. The only time when the child should be left with the father is when there is something seriously wrong with the mother.

      October 23, 2012 at 6:18 am | Report abuse |
  14. uckermanf

    This is what happens when you have a citizenry which does not understand or respect science. Quite frankly, I'm surprised something this dumb hasn't happened in the United States. It's just a matter of time.

    October 23, 2012 at 4:35 am | Report abuse |
  15. Jim J.

    I thought Italy has left the Middle Ages.

    October 23, 2012 at 4:36 am | Report abuse |
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