London: An Italian court has convicted six scientists and a government official of manslaughter for failing to give adequate warning of a deadly earthquake in 2009, the Daily Mail reported Tuesday.
The city of L`Aquila was decimated by the quake, which measured more than 6.3 on the Richter scale and killed more than 300 people.
Now the group of seven, all members of an official body called the National Commission for the Forecast and Prevention of Major Risks, have been found guilty of negligence and malpractice in their evaluation of the danger of an earthquake.
The case has drawn wide condemnation from international bodies including the American Geophysical Union, which said the risk of litigation may deter scientists from advising governments or even working to assess seismic risk, according to the Mail.
A 6.3 Richter strength earthquake struck L`Aquila, in Italy`s Abruzzo region at 3.32 a.m. April 6, 2009, wrecking tens of thousands of buildings, injuring more than 1,000 people and killing hundreds of others in their sleep.
At the heart of the case was whether the government-appointed experts gave an overly reassuring picture of the risks facing the town, which contained many ancient and fragile buildings and which had been partially destroyed three times by earthquakes over the centuries.
The quake`s focal point was 22 miles northwest of Bologna, at a relatively shallow depth of 6.3 miles. The earthquake - along with around 250 aftershocks - caused an estimated 10 billion euros of damage within 48 hours.