Six Italian scientists and one ex-government official have just been sentenced to six-years in prison for multiple manslaughter after failing to accurately predict deadly 2009 earthquake. The courts found that the scientists gave falsely reassuring statements after studying tremors that had shaken the Italian city of L’Aquila.
The seven were accused of negligence and malpractice in their “evaluation of the danger of an earthquake and their duty to keep the city informed of the risks”. The case has drawn wide condemnation from international bodies including the American Geophysical Union, which said the risk of litigation may deter scientists from working to assess seismic risk.
At the heart of the case was whether the scientists gave an overly reassuring picture of the risks facing the town, which contained many ancient and fragile buildings and which had been partially destroyed three times by earthquakes over the centuries. The case focused in particular on a series of low-level tremors which hit the region in the months preceding the earthquake and which prosecutors said should have warned experts not to underestimate the risk of a major shock.
The scientists may still appeal the case.
The 6.3 magnitude quake occurred at 3.32 a.m. on April 6, 2009 and killed 309 people in their sleep.
Geek Slop take: Burn the lazy bastards at the stake (and fire all the weathermen while you’re at it)!