Manslaughter verdict in earthquake trial

Oct. 22, 2012 at 1:07 PM

L'AQUILA, Italy, Oct. 22 (UPI) -- Six Italian scientists have been sentenced to prison over a deadly 2009 earthquake, with prosecutors arguing they made falsely reassuring statements.

The six scientists and an ex-government official were convicted of manslaughter by a regional Italian court and sentenced to six years for providing "inexact, incomplete and contradictory" information about the danger of the tremors felt ahead of the quake, the BBC reported Monday.

The 6.3 magnitude quake devastated the city of L'Aquila and killed 309 people.

The seven defendants, all members of the National Commission for the Forecast and Prevention of Major Risks, maintained there was no way to predict major earthquakes.

Judge Marco Billi also ordered the defendants to pay court costs and damages.

More than 5,000 scientists signed an open letter to Italian President Giorgio Napolitano in support of the defendants, expressing concern in the scientific community that science itself was being put on trial.

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