Italian Scientists Jailed In Quake Trial

Robert Nisbet, Europe Correspondent
Italian Scientists Jailed In Quake Trial

A team of Italian scientists has been found guilty of manslaughter for failing to warn citizens of a huge earthquake in 2009.

The team, along with a government official, were jailed for six years in a trial which has infuriated the global scientific community.

Historic buildings cracked and crumbled in the 6.3 magnitude quake in which 309 died and thousands were left homeless in the town of L'Aquila in central Italy.

But the following year there was another aftershock. Charges were brought against six government scientists and an official for not sufficiently warning people of the risks of another seismic event.

The seven accused had been part of the region's Major Risks Committee which had met on March 31, six days before the earthquake.

They issued a statement designed to reassure residents after studying tremors in the area, while stressing it was impossible to say when another event may occur.

In court, prosecutor Fabio Picuti said they had given "an incomplete, inept, unsuitable and criminally mistaken analysis".

Defence lawyers said the charges in L'Aquila were "medieval", arguing that earthquakes cannot be predicted.

Some 5,000 scientists from around the world sent a letter of protest to the then Italian president Giorgio Napolitano.

Legal experts say the convicted men are likely to remain free from jail until an appeals process is completed.