Friday, June 24, 2011
Seismologists in Italy have been charged with manslaughter for failing to give sufficient warning of a 2009 earthquake that killed over 300 people. According to an article in the Guardian, "The judge said the defendants 'gave inexact, incomplete and contradictory information' about whether smaller tremors in L'Aquila six months before . . . should have been viewed as warning signs of the subsequent disaster."
The defense here seems pretty strong:
Defence lawyers contend that since quakes cannot be predicted, the accusations that the commission's scientists and civil protection experts should have warned that a major quake was imminent make no sense.
"As we all know, quakes aren't predictable," said Marcello Melandri, defence lawyer for defendant Enzo Boschi, a scientist who heads the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology.
Melandri added that the panel "never said, 'stay calm, there is no risk'".
Manslaughter charges for natural disasters are not unusual in Italy, but they have previously concerned breaches of building codes in areas at risk of quakes.