Italian scientists convicted of manslaughter after deadly earthquake

‘The verdict is perverse and the sentence ludicrous’

Six scientists and one government official have been convicted of manslaughter for failing to properly predict a deadly Italian earthquake, in a decision that is sending chills though the scientific community.

An Italian judge decided that the men were guilty on multiple charges after they gave a falsely reassuring statement six days prior to the 6.3-magnitude earthquake in L’Aquila, Italy on April 6, 2009, which killed 306 people and left the city in ruins.

The decision marks the end of a 13-month trial. Now, Franco Barberi, head of Serious Risks Commission, Enzo Boschi, former president of the National Institute of Geophysics, Giulio Selvaggi, director of National Earthquake Centre, Gian Michele Calvi, director of European Centre for Earthquake Engineering, Claudio Eva, physicist, Mauro Dolce, director of the the Civil Protection Agency’s earthquake risk office and Bernardo De Bernardinis, former vice-president of Civil Protection Agency’s technical department, will spend six years in jail.

The six-year sentence was even harsher than the four-year sentence requested by public prosecutor Fabio Picuti, and it has left the scientific community wondering what’s next. “The verdict is perverse and the sentence ludicrous,” wrote the journal Nature, one day after the decision. “Already some scientists have responded with warnings about the chilling effect on their ability to serve in public risk assessments.”

Luciano Maiani, head of Italy’s disaster service, stepped down after the decision telling an Italian news agency that it was impossible to work in light of the judge’s ruling. “These are professionals who spoke in good faith and were by no means motivated by personal interests, they had always said that it is not possible to predict an earthquake,” Maiani told the Corriere della Sera newspaper.

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Italian scientists convicted of manslaughter after deadly earthquake

  1. At one time Italy led the world in scientists and artists…..then they got stuck with the pope….and I see they are continuing with the papal tradition of burning people at the stake.

    So much talent, stifled for so long by sheer stupidity and ignorance.

    • Wow. Way to play the religion card.

      • I blame those responsible….religion poisons everything.

        • As I said: bigotry at its best.

          • Pedophile priests and 2000 years of peddling ignorance ….time to end the joke of religion.

          • Wow … the bigot just got lose … I think it is time for your meds…

          • Speaking truth is not bigotry.

            If you’d had a decent education, you’d know that. Plus, you might be able to spell.

          • Hmmm … as I said, it is time for your meds …

          • Since you’re the one babbling nonsense….I’d say you need em more. LOL

    • I love it when ‘wannabe enlighteneds’ reveal their deepseated bigotry.
      First, check the facts. This verdict is actually about taking scientists to task for unscientific behaviour, for behaving like palm readers and/or demigods, when they make statements about things they do not have scientific evidence for.
      Second, your trying to connect this with the pope, clealry shows your ignorance and bigotry.

  2. The seismologists
    were charged not with failing to predict the earthquake but for wrongly
    reassuring the public about the risk. Witnesses told the court that family
    members had died because after the reassurances they stopped leaving their houses
    when they noticed tremors.

    In other words, the scientists were not accused of poor
    performance as oracles, sorcerers or palm readers by providing inaccurate
    predictions about future events. (Everybody knows the limitations of earthquake
    predictions.)

    On the contrary, they were charged because they acted as oracles, sorcerers and
    palm readers and not scientists. The fact is that they said something they
    should never have said.

    They, the head of the Great Risks Commission, in a public interview, told the
    people of L’Aquila, who were camping out on the streets because of the tremors,
    that it was safe to go home and sleep in their houses. And that is when the
    earthquake hit.

    The scientists should have stuck to science and not give assurances about
    things they did not have scientific evidence for. But in their arrogance, they
    pretended to know, and acted like palm readers.

    • Nonsense. The scientists simply declared a low probability of a major quake while explicitly not ruling it out. It’s the Italian court which expects them to have known the earthquake would happen – something which is currently beyond the realm of the science.

      • Please check your sources. The head of the Great Risk Commission said in an interview that it was “improbable” that despite the small tremors there will be a major earthquake, so people don’t have to leave their houses when the small tremors happen. He simply did not have the scientific data to make such a claim!
        To a layperosn despreat to gome home after days of camping in the streets, “improbable” means “I can go home”.

        • Ah, it’s scientists fault that some people don’t know what the word “improbable” means. “Improbable” being exactly what the science had to say about the likelihood of a major quake. Just as it is “improbable” that a subduction quake will happen tomorrow on the west coast. Yet it very well might.

  3. If you can’t predict an earthquake why are these experts accepting money for doing so?
    When you take a job. You take on responsibility.
    Incompetence and fraudulence has lead to manslaughter.

    • You have no idea what you are talking about. Please stop posting ignorant comments. Seismologists study earthquakes, they try and come up with models for predicting them. No Seismologist on the planet can tell you when a large earthquake will happen. These scientists are neither fraudulent or incompetent. The individuals that convicted them however, are both those things.

      • Now that you have defined seismologists for me i feel enlightened enough to respond. Sorry mike I should have been more elaborate and explained the incompetence fraudulence and manslaughter as to who they pertain . For it seems you are unable to see beyond the seismologists involved. If you actually read the article there are numerous job titles included in the negligent party. People responsible and liable for making decisions regarding public safety. Thankfully mike, there is a person more educated and intelligent than you to make the tough decision on this case. Unlike you and the seismologists demonstration of ignorance, that cost hundreds of lives and your integrity.

  4. This is pretty stupid when you think about it.. Weather men/women are going to sentenced to jail time for getting the weather wrong. It’s freezing rain and someone gets killed in a car accident. Lets blame the weather man…

    Mother nature/earth/solar system can’t be predicted 100% and never will be.

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