Trial begins against scientists blamed in Italian quake deaths
Defenders argue quake cannot be predicted
September 20, 2011 11:54 am EDT
Crime, Law And Justice, Trials, Disaster And Accident, Earthquake, Human Interest, People, Human Mishap
Italy has begun trial of six of its scientists and a former government official accused of giving false reassurance to the public before a devastating 6.3-magnitude earthquake in 2009 that killed more than 300 people and left thousands homeless.
Prosecutors claim the accused men had recorded hundreds of tremors in the central Italian city of L'Aquila before the quake struck the area. The seven defendants have been charged with manslaughter.
The defense rejected the charge, arguing that it is impossible to predict major earthquakes even in a seismically active area.
The seven men are accused of "negligence and imprudence of having provided an approximate, generic and ineffective assessment of seismic activity risks as well as incomplete, imprecise and contradictory information."
On the first day of trial, only one of the defendants was present in court. "I thought it was important to be here because this is my land, and I also wanted to underline the professionalism and the quality of the other public officials," said Bernardo De Bernardinis, former vice-president of the Civil Protection Agency's technical department. "I am from Abruzzo and I owe it to the people of this area."
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