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. EmraldOnyxx

    since they only want the scientist to accurately communicate the risk of an earthquake..... They should just say "Earthquakes Kill"........and maybe since these are teh same people that would say Volcanoes kill too......they should say that too "Volcanoes Kill too." No wonder Rome fell to stupidity. Are the leaders there still drinking from lead cups?

    October 23, 2012 at 7:42 am | Report abuse |
  2. Joe

    In other news, as of today all Italian scientists have permanently left the country.

    October 23, 2012 at 7:48 am | Report abuse |
  3. jstanz

    Doesn't surprise me a bit. This is the country that concocted a satanic ritual to convict Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito when all the evidence showed it was a commonplace burglary gone wrong. Italy is making a good case for being stuck in the Dark Ages.

    October 23, 2012 at 8:04 am | Report abuse |
  4. Mike

    They should have jailed the pope. He's divine and should have known less stopped it.

    This is not surprising comming from a country that uses witchcraft as a basis for prosecution. The problem here is a government that pays more attention to religious dogma and not science.

    I have a deep faith myself but I don't ignore scientific principle.

    October 23, 2012 at 8:07 am | Report abuse |
  5. rusty5

    This decision to hold these scientist responsible has some merit to it. The only correct answer "scientist" can state about predicting earthquakes is "We don't know". When that pretend they DO know and people trust them because of their credentials, that's a problem. Same goes for extended hurricane predictions and stock market predictions. When I see an expert telling me the direction the market is headed, he is full of S&^% because nobody knows the future of the market. Apparently in Italy, the court has a problem with someone using their credentials to be full of it when lives are at stake.

    October 23, 2012 at 8:18 am | Report abuse |
    • gager

      No, there is still no merit to sending scientist to jail for a faulty or no prediction. Believing any opinion is infallable falls on the shoulder of the believer. The pope should be sent to prison for promising a life after death.

      October 23, 2012 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
  6. Penguin

    The inquisition has returned

    October 23, 2012 at 8:55 am | Report abuse |
  7. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    And they were probably discouraged from giving their initial report for fear of starting a panic, too! Italy apparently loves to convict people for what they did, what they didn't do, for what they should (not) have done, and for what they were ordered (not) to do.

    October 23, 2012 at 9:12 am | Report abuse |
  8. kelly

    this is why i love the usa. so proud of my country

    October 23, 2012 at 9:35 am | Report abuse |
  9. nytw

    This is an example of what will happen in America if the Christian right succeeds.

    October 23, 2012 at 9:42 am | Report abuse |
  10. Acrion7

    What took place in that Italian courtroom was a terrible misuse of the Italian legal system for the sole purpose of scapegoating. Any serious court would have thrown out the case on day one. However, I must apologize, the court that put Galileo on trial in 1633 was also serious...

    October 23, 2012 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
  11. Salvuccino

    Pure Disinformation!
    There were evident signals that were ignored because they required more analysis.
    The sluppy scientists laughed at the allarmists. They were quick to dismiss a meeting
    and focus on the kind of wine they had to have that night.
    If there were no contest no trial would have occurred.
    The Italian judges for once held accountable who didn't do their job properly.

    Based on most of the comments on this blog and the majority of the media we should stop trying doctors for missing diagnosis or medical malpractice

    what happened in L'Aquila during that meeting was a case of 'Science Malpractice'

    October 23, 2012 at 10:28 am | Report abuse |
    • geoscientist

      These "warning signs" you are are speaking of were small tremors that happen in fault zones due to a release of stress on fault planes. In many case around the world these temors are good news when it comes to the possiblility of bog quakes. They represent the lessening of stress in a fault zone. This relief of stress can cause the earthquakes to be much smaller and in some cases may go on for tens to thousands of years so they do not work as immediate warning signs. Get your facts straight

      October 23, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Lorie

    This is totally absurd. We all know that NOBODY can perdict when an earthquake is going to take place. What total idiots to put these people in jail over this. I feel sorry for them AND their famlies

    October 23, 2012 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  13. banasy©

    This is THE dumbest misapplicatiom I'm the law that I have ever seen!
    That they were charged in the first place is ridiculous, let alone convicted...*nobody* can predict, with any accuracy, a natural disaster...
    Well done, Italy. (Rolls eyes)

    October 23, 2012 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
  14. steve

    Hmmmm...must be the same judge's that ruled the earth was flat.
    My heart goes out not only to the scientists, but to the people of Italy as well.
    Seems only a 'fools parade' at the courthouse.

    October 23, 2012 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
  15. Tom Martin

    Shaking the foundations of sanity

    October 23, 2012 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
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