L’Aquila Earthquake Trial Expands And Reaches Next Level Of Appeal

ScienceInsider reports on developments in the trial of six Italian scientists and a public official in connection with remarks made prior to the 2009 earthquake in L’Aquila.

(Once again I will note that I am not a lawyer, and have even less experience with the Italian legal system.)

That earthquake led to 309 deaths, and the seven people on trial were convicted of manslaughter.  However, earlier this last year the convictions of the six scientists were overturned, while the conviction of the then-deputy of Italy’s civil protection department remained (with a reduced sentence).  Their case continues on appeal, and will have a hearing in front of the highest appellate court in Italy on November 19.

On the next day the manslaughter trial begins of Guido Bertolaso, who was head of the Italian civil protection department.  He had been investigated since January of 2012 in light of a recorded phone call that Bertolaso made to a local official the night before his deputy and the six seismologists met with people in L’Aquila to discuss the risk of earthquakes in the region.  In the call Bertolaso allegedly outlines what the scientists would say and characterized the meeting as a means of quieting another scientist whose predictions had alarmed the L’Aquila population.  Bertolaso has only recently been ordered to stand trial, despite prior efforts to compel such an action.  The first hearing will take place in L’Aquila on November 20.

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