Tuesday October 23, 2012
Head of Italy disaster body quits in protest at quake ruling
ROME: The head of Italy's top disaster body resigned in protest on Tuesday after seven of its members were sentenced to six years in jail for manslaughter for underestimating the risks of a deadly 2009 earthquake.
Luciano Maiami told the ANSA news agency he had quit as head of the Major Risks Committee because "there aren't the conditions to work serenely," a day after the watershed ruling that sent shockwaves through the international scientific community.
Maiami, one of Italy's top physicists and a former head of Cern in Geneva, criticised the verdict delivered by the court in L'Aquila in central Italy on Monday as "a big mistake".
"These are professionals who spoke in good faith and were by no means motivated by personal interests, they had always said that it is not possible to predict an earthquake," he told the Corriere della Sera newspaper.
"This is the end of scientists giving consultations to the state," he said.
All seven defendants were members of the Major Risks Committee which met in L'Aquila on March 31, 2009 - six days before the 6.3-magnitude quake devastated the region, killing 309 people and leaving thousands homeless.
Under the Italian justice system, the seven remain free until they have exhausted two chances to appeal the verdict. - AFP