In an update to a story that shook geoscientists around the world, almost all of the people formerly found guilty in the L’Aquila earthquake prediction manslaughter case have been acquitted.
Today, after a surprisingly swift-by-Italian-standards appeals process, the three-judge panel acquitted six of the men. The seventh, Bernardo De Bernardinis, received a two-year sentence for causing the death of some, but not all, of the 29 victims involved in the trial.
Much of the case, and subsequent appeal, hinged on an especially moronic statement made by De Bernardinis on the day of the now infamous meeting in L’Aquila preceding the quake. At the time, he was the number two official at the Civil Protection Department. In a television interview, De Bernardinis—whose training is in hydrology, not seismology—was asked if the swarm was a sign of worse to come.
“On the contrary,” he said. “The scientific community assures me that the situation is good because of the continuous discharge of energy.”
The original guilty verdict covered by me, a geologist quite disturbed by the precedent set, is here but I also write an indepth piece: Hear rumbling? It’s the sound of Italy’s disaster preparedness force crumbling. Hopefully, this decision wraps up this terrible scenario in geology and the public and we can learn from the dreadful mistakes all around.