The Wall Street Journal reports that an Italian court has convicted six scientists and a government of criminal manslaughter for what the court said was a failure to warn of a 2009 earthquake. The judge sentenced the seven defendants to six years in prison, pending appeals. I was aware of this case back when the prosecution was first initiated, but somehow assumed that this kind of claim was a stunt that would get tossed out in due course. Apparently I was wrong, at least pending appeals. I haven’t been able to find an English translation of the judgment, but the Wall Street Journal’s report doesn’t appear to be behind the subscriber wall:
An Italian court convicted six scientists and a government official of manslaughter for failing to adequately warn of the earthquake risk in the city of L’Aquila ahead of a deadly 2009 quake, in a surprise ruling that victims’ relatives welcomed but scientists said could undermine their work.
Judge Marco Billi sentenced each of the defendants to six years in prison—harsher than prosecutors’ original requests of four years. The judge also barred the men from holding public office for life. The sentences won’t come into effect until the end of any appeals process. ”The importance of this ruling isn’t that it says an earthquake can be predicted; rather that the risk of a quake can be predicted and, therefore, mitigated,” said Fabio Alessandroni, a lawyer representing many of the 308 people killed in the disaster.