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Italian scientists found guilty of manslaughter for failing to predict deadly L'Aquila quake

Enzo Federici, a resident of Bazzano, a suburb of L'Aquila hit hard by the quake, stands in his destroyed house on April 2, 2012 in L'Aquila.
Credit: Andreas Solaro

It's official: six Italian scientists and a government official have been sentenced to six years of jail in Italy. Their crime? Failing to predict the 2009 L'aquila quake that killed 309 in the historic central Italian city.

The BBC reports the men, all members of the National Commission for the Forecast and Prevention of Major Risks, were found guilty of manslaughter on Monday, accused of giving the public " "inexact, incomplete and contradictory" information about the earthquake threat.

Prosecutors claimed the scientists and the official in question gave a "falsely reassuring" statement before the earthquake occurred, apparently persuading some people to stay put instead of fleeing the area.

It's a case that has horrified the scientific world, as many feel that it sets a very disturbing precedent for other researchers who make predictions about potentially deadly events as part of their day-to-day-jobs.

Read more from GlobalPost: Italian scientists face jail time over failure to predict L'aquila earthquake

Thousands of scientists signed a petition voicing their support for the accused, which can be downloaded here.

Seismologists hasten to point out that the art of earthquake prediction is very much an inexact one, and it is patently unfair to accuse scientists of committing a crime for failing to predict such natural disasters.

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