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. Fabio

    All you Americans are talking without complete information. We know what happen in Italia. The "scientists" ignored reports of small earthquakes for days and days. They ignored the warnings. They selected wine instead of discussing the findings! They are responsible for their disgrace. Vergognoso!

    October 23, 2012 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • DUHH

      Was anyone keeping you locked in a room? You have a brain; do you not? You could have left town when you felt the tremors. Next time do not blame some one else if you get wet after the sky turns grey. You act like its Einsteins fault that you people did not react to the obvious.

      October 23, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Birdie

      That's part of the point. Small earthquakes aren't warning signs for larger earthquakes. They can happen for months and months without there being a large earthquake; there can be a large earthquake with nothing preceding it; or it can be anywhere in between. What the scientists told the public was completely accurate. It was unlikely, but not impossible, for a large earthquake to occur.

      I will repeat myself, because you, like the judge, do not seem to understand. There were no warning signs, because small earthquakes do not predict large earthquakes. All you have done is use these scientist as scapegoats. In the process, you have likely put an end to any research in Italy that could have found a way to really predict earthquakes. Why would any scientist want to work there if they will be held personally responsible for an unpredictable act of God?

      October 23, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      SO, now the Scientist are presumed to know the whims of God or Mother Nature? That's like saying I can sue my Car manufacturer if I get in an accident, because they didn't warn me that motor vehicles can crash into things or each other..... what a mook....

      October 23, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Carla

      Same country that tried Galileo by the Inquisition, found him suspect of heresy, forced him to recant and then kept him for the rest of his life under house arrest – all because he believed – and rightly so – that our solar system is heliocentric. Not a safe place for scientists. That's what you get when a church runs a country,

      October 23, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • iRex

      As someone who lives in an earthquake region myself, and tries to keep up on current quake science, I also know that not only are minor quakes not usually a indicator of a larger quake, they actually tend to indicate that a larger quake is less likely because smaller quakes tend to relieve stress on the fault generating them.

      I don't have to live in Italia to know that Earthquakes can't be accurately predicted, and to hold scientists responsible for not predicting them, no matter what they were or weren't doing, is ludicrous.

      October 23, 2012 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Barzoo42

      As a scientist, my advice to everyone in Italy is "Leave...Now! There will be an earthquake (sometime)." Seriously, that is what every scientist will now be forced to say. CYA rules!

      October 23, 2012 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • MPS

      Fabio, if you are representative of all Italians, I see why your country is more screwed up than ours fiscally. There is no scenario where being wrong about something deserves even a day in jail. These aren't feudal times, even in Italy as backwards a place as it apparently is, it's the 21st Century. Now put down your grappa, stop harassing whatever 14 year old girl you are harassing, sober up, and think about what you just posted.

      Italy has nothing on the Taliban. Good Lord.

      October 23, 2012 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
  2. lyn karie

    WOW! That would be like saying lets sentence the Pope because he is supposed to be a direct link to God and since God made the earth and it quaked then the Pope should have warned us. Same thing, just a different take. People are crazy. Not very incident on this
    earth has to be blamed on someone.
    There will be a mass exodus of scientist from Italy now. Good Job Italian Judicial System!

    October 23, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  3. BOMBO © shaking his fist


    October 23, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  4. BOMBO ©

    Don't make me come over there.

    October 23, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  5. BOMBO ©

    No, I'd better not. They'll just frame me for murdering some British girl.

    October 23, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  6. CLK

    This is sad. I got my M.S. degree in structural engineering and had to study earthquake engineering extensively. There is no way to predict an earthquake even if there are foreshocks. Foreshocks are not a reliable indicator for determining whether an earthquake will occur. The experts in this case told the truth that anyone with a background in seismology would have given: a major earthquake was unlikely but not impossible.

    October 23, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  7. blessedgeek

    GOOD. Now I can sue weather.com for not accurate predicting the rain that would destroy my $6000 concrete pour.

    October 23, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  8. memsman

    WOW, this even tops the OJ 'not guilty' verdict! Let me try my Italian: Che cazzo?

    October 23, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Lou Gee from NYC

    Someone please wake me up !!! Is it the 21st century or am I STUCK in a time warp and this is the middle of the INQUISITION? Are they still BURNING WITCHES over there or is it just the bombolini's way of blaming a lack of EMERGENCY RESPONSE ( or were the responders just inept/ caught unaware/ off to siesta) on a bunch of scientists who aren't members of the mafiosi ? Padrinos... Go and have some lasagna ...and vino !!

    October 23, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mark

    Italy – acting rational since the Middle Ages. Facepalm.

    October 23, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Harry Kuheim

    This is a Liberal/Socialist wet dream...sue the Government for Natural Disasters...and jail them for not protecting you 24/7...the same thing happen after 9/11 when New Yorkers sued the City because Islamofascists crashed into the World Trade Center.

    October 23, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • bonicajoseph

      i would learn the difference between a crime and a civil suit if i wereyou. not very impresive

      October 23, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • RJ White

      It amazes me how any story can be twisted into a comment on politics by someone who doesn't understand anything, just that they hate a certain section of a population.
      Harry, they are looking for people with your mental makeup to preside over courts in Italy.

      October 23, 2012 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Javadude54

      That's just plain stupid.

      October 24, 2012 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • DB9

      Let me get this straight, so in your logic Liberals, who believe in big government, would be rejoiced that people are suing the government successfully? You might want to think that sentiment through a little bit more.

      October 24, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jerry

    Well, Italy will have no one but its courts & people to blame for the oncoming "Brain Drain" as all scientists leave the country for saner pastures. On behalf of America – which will gain substantially from this idiotic decision – I can only say: "Viva Italia"!

    October 23, 2012 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Yito

    How could the legal system have so much flaw when it comes to this mess, and scientists are accused of crime committed by nature. Nature had and will again and again reign this world.

    October 23, 2012 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Petruski

    Not surprising. Capitalism has a vested interest in keeping people ignorant, so corrupt politicians can deflect trouble to harmless groups of people (scapegoats). It happened to the Jews in Germany in the 30's and 40's. Oh, and Italy was in the clutch of fascists then, too. They just barely got rid of Silvio, another fascist. Here in the US we barely got rid of George W.
    Oh, and then there was the Vatican Express, but that's for another thread.

    October 24, 2012 at 1:41 am | Report abuse |
  15. dork3.0

    Never going to Italy. I'm worried I'll be detained for causing a butterfly event 30 years ago which resulted in a lightning fatality around Tuscany in 2012.

    October 24, 2012 at 1:45 am | Report abuse |
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