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Italian Prosecutors on Shaky Ground?

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | May 29, 2011



No. 624

According to reports gathered and summarized by Economics Professor Tyler Cowan in his blog “Marginal Revolution”, seven Italian seismologists have been charged with manslaughter for failing to give residents of the village of L’Aquila in Central Italy adequate warning of the risk of an earthquake that struck on April 6, 2009, killing 308.

One Italian news website, Abruzzo Web stated:

“È facile immaginare di crocifiggere il professor Bernardo De Bernardinis o il professor Enzo Boschi.”  Indeed.

While crucifixion hasn’t been in vogue for a couple thousand years, we get the point. Bernardo De Bernardinis, Deputy Technical Head of Italy’s Civil Protection, recently announced the decision to prosecute, alleging that the committee issued an assessment that downplayed the risk of a quake, causing many to fail to protect themselves.   A shocked spokesman for the US Geological Survey called the prosecution a witch hunt. The USGS website says that no earthquake has ever been predicted successfully.

Enzo Boschi, president of the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, and six other members of a committee assessing earthquake risks will stand trial beginning on September 20.

Professor Boschi, to his credit as a scientist, in the midst of the L’Aquila controversy, refused to give any credence to a prediction made by an Italian seismologist early in the last century that “the big one” was to strike in Rome on May 11, 2011.

Having charged the leading seismologists in Italy with this crime, where does the government propose to find an expert witness?




CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

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