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Six Italian scientists jailed for six years each for failing to predict 2009 quake that killed over 300 people

Published time: October 22, 2012 15:27
Edited time: October 22, 2012 20:52
People stand as the court in charge of the trial of six Italian scientists and a government official charged with manslaughter for underestimating the risks of a killer earthquake in 2009 takes place for a session.(AFP Photo / Filippo Monteforte)

People stand as the court in charge of the trial of six Italian scientists and a government official charged with manslaughter for underestimating the risks of a killer earthquake in 2009 takes place for a session.(AFP Photo / Filippo Monteforte)

A court in the Italian city of L'Aquila has handed down verdicts to six scientists and one government official charged with manslaughter for failing to give sufficient warning of a fatal earthquake that hit in 2009.

­The case was built around a meeting the seven defendants, all members of a commission on natural disasters, held in the city of L’Aquila on March 31, 2009, in which they told residents there was no cause for concern after a series of minor shocks had rocked the city in the preceding six months.

It took Judge Marco Billi slightly more than four hours to reach the verdict.

The seven – all members of the National Commission for the Forecast and Prevention of Major Risks – were judged to have provided "inexact, incomplete and contradictory" information about the danger of the tremors felt ahead of 6 April 2009 quake, Italian media report.

Less that a week later, a 6.3-magnitude quake reduced most of the medieval city to rubble, leaving 309 people dead and more than 60,000 homeless.

Scientists worldwide had slammed the trial as ridiculous, saying that science has no way to predict quakes. More than 5,000 scientists signed an open letter to Italian President Giorgio Napolitano in support of the defendants.

Italy′s President Giorgio Napolitano (2ndL), flanked by head of the Civil Defence Guido Bertolaso (L), listens to a fireman during a visit in L′Aquila, on April 9, 2009.(AFP Photo / Ciro Fusco)
Italy's President Giorgio Napolitano (2ndL), flanked by head of the Civil Defence Guido Bertolaso (L), listens to a fireman during a visit in L'Aquila, on April 9, 2009.(AFP Photo / Ciro Fusco)

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Italian firefighters check areas where houses collapsed on April 9, 2009 in Villa Sant′Angelo, in the Abruzze region. Villa Sant′Angelo was a village of 450 inhabitants where 17 were killed by the earthquake on April 6.(AFP Photo / Mario Laporta)
Italian firefighters check areas where houses collapsed on April 9, 2009 in Villa Sant'Angelo, in the Abruzze region. Villa Sant'Angelo was a village of 450 inhabitants where 17 were killed by the earthquake on April 6.(AFP Photo / Mario Laporta)

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A fire fighter walks in the rubble from the church of San Gregorio village on April 15, 2009, near the epicentre of the April 6 earthquake that struck the Abruzzo region. Experts say one in three homes in the area has been left uninhabitable by the quake. A further 20 percent would require repair work.(AFP Photo / Andreas Solaro)
A fire fighter walks in the rubble from the church of San Gregorio village on April 15, 2009, near the epicentre of the April 6 earthquake that struck the Abruzzo region. Experts say one in three homes in the area has been left uninhabitable by the quake. A further 20 percent would require repair work.(AFP Photo / Andreas Solaro)

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Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone (R) blesses the coffins of the April 6 earthquake′s victims during the state funeral in the vast square courtyard of a "Guardia di Finanzia" police training centre where some 200 coffins were arrayed on April 10, 2009.(AFP Photo / Osservatore Romano)
Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone (R) blesses the coffins of the April 6 earthquake's victims during the state funeral in the vast square courtyard of a "Guardia di Finanzia" police training centre where some 200 coffins were arrayed on April 10, 2009.(AFP Photo / Osservatore Romano)

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