L'AQUILA, Italy — In a verdict that sent shock waves through the scientific community, an Italian court convicted seven experts of manslaughter on Monday for failing to adequately warn residents of the risk before an earthquake struck central Italy in 2009, killing more than 300 people.
The defendants, all prominent scientists or geological and disaster experts, were sentenced to six years in prison.
Earthquake experts worldwide decried the trial as ridiculous, contending there was no way of knowing that a flurry of tremors would lead to a deadly quake.
"It's a sad day for science," said seismologist Susan Hough, of the U.S. Geological Survey in Pasadena, Calif. "It's unsettling."
That fellow seismic experts in Italy were singled out in the case "hits you in the gut," she said.
In Italy, convictions aren't definitive until after at least one appeal, so it was unlikely any of the defendants would face jail immediately.
Italian officials and experts have been prosecuted for quake-triggered damage in the past, including a 2002 school collapse in southern Italy that killed 27 children and a teacher. But that case centered on allegations of shoddy construction in quake-prone areas.
Among those convicted Monday were some of Italy's best known and most internationally respected seismologists and geological experts, including Enzo Boschi, former head of the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology.
"I am dejected, desperate," Boschi said. "I thought I would have been acquitted. I still don't understand what I was convicted of."
The trial began in September 2011.
- Israel hits symbols of Hamas rule; scores killed
- Child sex trafficking bust reveals worries...
- Georgia girl struck by plane on Florida beach...
- Photos: UCLA wades through damage caused by...
- Obama to GOP: 'Stop just hating all the time'
- Survey: 70 percent of Americans think the...
- Democrats have million-dollar day on impeachment
- The Great War: 100 photos marking 100 years...
- US Court: Virginia marriage is for all... 44
- Federal land managers criticized over... 26
- Obama to GOP: 'Stop just hating all the... 23
- Obama maintains busy fundraising... 22
- Survey: 70 percent of Americans think... 21
- Fast food workers vow civil disobedience 18
- GOP-led House ready to OK lawsuit... 15
- Gaza sides agree to lull but truce... 13