"L'AQUILA, Italy -- Six scientists and a government official were sentenced to six years in prison for manslaughter by an Italian court on Monday for failing to give adequate warning of an earthquake that killed more than 300 people in L"Aquila in 2009."
"The seven, all members of a body called the National Commission for the Forecast and Prevention of Major Risks, were accused of negligence and malpractice in evaluating the danger and keeping the central city informed of the risks.
The case has drawn condemnation from international bodies including the American Geophysical Union, which said the risk of litigation may deter scientists from advising governments or even working in seismology and seismic risk assessments.
'The issue here is about miscommunication of science, and we should not be putting responsible scientists who gave measured, scientifically accurate information in prison,' Richard Walters of Oxford University's Department of Earth Sciences said.
'This sets a very dangerous precedent and I fear it will discourage other scientists from offering their advice on natural hazards and trying to help society in this way.'"