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Rome, October 23 - Some of Italy's top earthquake experts resigned on Tuesday after a controversial manslaughter verdict against seven of their colleagues in the catastrophic L'Aquila quake of 2009.
Monday's ruling, in which seven top-level scientists and public officials were found guilty in connection with the tremor that killed more than 300 people, also spurred disbelief and dismay across the global scientific community.
In a memo, the experts concluded that it was "unlikely" that there would be a major quake, though it stressed that the possibility could not be ruled out. One week later the 6.3-magnitude tremor hit, toppling buildings, killing 309 people and displacing 65,000 more in and around the city.
The national and international scientific community has slammed the court verdict, saying it sets a dangerous precedent as major earthquakes cannot be accurately predicted.
Meanwhile on Tuesday L'Aquila journalist Giustino Parisse who lost his two sons and father in the earthquake wrote in the Abruzzo paper Il Centro that he does not "feel able to take my anger out on those men". "I have shaken hands with some of them over the last few months, including during the trial, and I did not find them to be stained with blood. I saw fragile men who were perhaps aware that they had made a mistake and for that reason were caught up in the turmoil of a tragedy that also swept them away", he wrote.
Scientists from the United States to Japan were shocked at the ruling and expressed support for those convicted. The verdict "came in the birthplace of Galileo, some things never change," said an influential US body, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), referring to the great scientist who was forced by the Inquisition to abjure his discoveries about the solar system.
The UCS urged President Giorgio Napolitano to intervene in the case, repeating the scientific community's view that it is "impossible" to predict earthquakes. The ruling was "absurd and dangerous," the UCS said.
The verdict also aroused concern in Japan where Shinichi Sakai of the Earthquake Research Institute in Tokyo said he would have taken the same defence line as the Italian seismologists, because, he said, "it is not possible to say when a strong tremor will occur.
"Imagine if the government filed criminal charges against a meteorologist who was unable to forecast the exact path of a tornado," Sakai said. "Or an epidemiologist who didn't predict the dangerous effects of a virus". Reports of the verdict were splashed all over t
(CNN) -- Earthquake experts worldwide expressed shock at the manslaughter convictions of six Italian scientists who failed to predict the deadly L'Aquila quake, warning that the decision could severely harm future research.
"To predict a large quake on the basis of a relatively commonplace sequence of small earthquakes and to advise the local population to flee" would constitute "both bad science and bad public policy," said David Oglesby, an associate professor in the Earth sciences faculty of the University of California, Riverside.
"If scientists can be held personally and legally responsible for situations where predictions don't pan out, then it will be very hard to find scientists to stick their necks out in the future," Oglesby said in a statement.
"It's chilling that people can be jailed for giving a scientific opinion in the line of their work," Roger Musson, the head of seismic hazard and archives at the British Geological Survey, wrote in a comment published on the organization's Twitter feed.