An Italian appeals court on Monday overturned a manslaughter conviction against six scientists and a government official for failing to adequately warn residents of the risk before an earthquake struck central Italy in 2009, killing more than 300 people. The court said no crime had been committed. The decision was met by cries of "shame" in the courtroom, packed with quake survivors. Lawyers for the plaintiffs indicated they would challenge the decision to Italy's highest court.
The defendants, all prominent scientists or geological or disaster experts who made up a risk commission, were charged with manslaughter and causing bodily harm for giving "inexact, incomplete and contradictory information" about whether small tremors felt by L'Aquila residents prior to the quake should have been grounds for a warning. Seismic scientists around the globe reacted with dismay to their initial 2012 conviction and six-year sentence, arguing the trial court misunderstood the science behind earthquake probabilities.
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