Giovedì, 18 Ottobre 2018
L'AQUILA

Earthquake scientists get 6 years in L'Aquila ruling

English
© ANSA

L'Aquila, October 22 - An Italian judge on Monday
sentenced seven Italian scientists and officials to six years in
prison for manslaughter over a 2009 earthquake in the central
city of L'Aquila that killed over 300 people and left tens of
thousands homeless.
"I'm dejected, despairing. I still don't understand what
I'm accused of," said Enzo Boschi, former president of the
National Geophysics and Vulcanology Institute.
Boschi and six others were also banned for life from public
office.
"The ruling cannot be anything but a topic of deep review
in appeals," said defence attorney Marcello Petrelli.
The case, in which seven defendants argued it is impossible
to predict a quake, received international attention, with over
5,000 scientists from around the world having signed a letter
supporting those on trial.
The trial focused on one event in particular, in which the
Committee on Major Risks met on March 31, 2009 in L'Aquila to
examine rumblings that had frightened residents for months.
In a memo, the experts concluded that it was "unlikely"
that there would be a major quake, though it stressed that the
possibility could not be ruled out.
One week later the 6.3-magnitude tremor hit, toppling
buildings, killing 309 people and displacing 65,000 more in and
around the city.
According to prosecutors representing the city council of
L'Aquila, the accused are guilty of a "superficial and
ineffective" assessment of seismic risk and of disclosing
"inaccurate, incomplete and contradictory" information regarding
earthquake danger.
Critics of the indictments include the American Geophysical
Union and the American Association for the Advancement of
Science.
"This is the death of service provided by professors and by
professionals to the State," said physicist Luciano Maiani, the
current president of Italy's Committee on Major Risks.
The defence said that the guilty verdict will only
discourage scientists from sharing their expertise with
officials in the future.
"It will have huge repercussions on how things get done at
the public level. No one will ever do anything again," said
Petrelli.
Prosecution claimed damages of 50 million euros and sought
only four years incarceration, which the judge increased to six.
Among those found guilty was the former second-in-command
of Italy's civil protection agency, currently the head of
Italy's Institute for Environmental Protection and Research
(ISPRA).
"I claim innocence before God and man," said Bernardo De
Bernardinis.

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