The relatives of more than 300 people killed in the devastating L’Aquila earthquake asked for £43 million in compensation from seven experts who are accused of manslaughter in failing to give adequate warning about the disaster.
A court in L’Aquila, the mountain city which was devastated by the 6.3 magnitude quake on April 6, 2009, admitted 70 individuals and organisations as injured parties in the trial, including the city’s council.
The six prominent seismologists and a senior public official are accused of not issuing sufficient warning over the likelihood of a major tremor at an emergency meeting six days before the earthquake hit.
The seven defendants face charges of manslaughter and unintentionally causing injury, which if proven by the court, could result in prison sentences of up to 15 years.
The decision to prosecute the experts has caused outrage in the scientific world, with Italian and international colleagues saying it is impossible to accurately predict an earthquake.
The Seismological Society of America has described the trial as an unprecedented legal attack on science.
Only one of the seven defendants was in court — Bernardo De Bernardinis, the then deputy head of Italy’s Civil Protection agency.
“I felt that it was important to be here because this is my home, and also to underline the professionalism and competence of other public officials. I’m from Abruzzo, I owe it to the people of the city,” he said.
The prosecution alleges that after the experts held an emergency meeting on March 31, 2009, they gave the public only an “approximate, generic and ineffective assessment of seismic activity risks as well as incomplete, imprecise and contradictory information.”
The experts, part of Italy’s Great Risks commission, issued a memo that day in which they concluded that it was “improbable” that there would be a big earthquake.
That meant, prosecutors say, that as more tremors hit L’Aquila in the days leading up to the quake, tens of thousands of people had been lulled into a false sense of security and did not evacuate their homes.
The earthquake reduced much of L’Aquila’s medieval centre to rubble and flattened surrounding villages, leaving the region, north-east of Rome, looking like a war zone.
After a three-hour hearing, the trial was adjourned to Oct 1.
2011-09-22 19:40 编辑：crystal156