Italian Earthquake Justice?

On April 6, 2009 a magnitude 6.9 earthquake destroyed the city of L’Aquila Italy. Striking at 3:32 AM most people were asleep. Hundreds were injured, 309 were killed, 65,000 buildings were damaged or reduced to rubble. For months leading up to this night low level tremors had plagued the region. On March 31, 2009 a meeting of the Great Risks Commission was called to discuss the growing number of tremors. Seven scientists in attendance went on record saying, historically the region was prone to seismic activity, there was no way to predict the “big one”, consequently no evacuation order was issued.

After the tragedy, it was on these points that prosecutors charged the 7 with manslaughter. Today Italian courts found them guilty. They were  sentenced to 6 years in prison, and banned for life from ever holding a government position.

They will of course appeal the decision.  The scientists had no crystal ball, there is no way to predict an earthquake  and ultimately the decision was not theirs. I suppose in hindsight the officials could have erred on the side of caution. To single them out and successfully convict them of manslaughter is mind boggling.

People walk past collapsed buildings near L'Aquila, Italy in after an deadly earthquake in April 2009. Seven scientists were found guilty of manslaughter Monday for failing to sufficiently warn residents of the quake.

Photo – Alessandra Tarantino AP