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L'Aquila quake expert defends innocence after court verdict

'The judge can't believe I thought there was no risk'

18 January, 17:27
L'Aquila quake expert defends innocence after court verdict (ANSA) - Rome, January 18 - One of the scientists convicted of multiple manslaughter following the 2009 L'Aquila earthquake defended his innocence on Friday following the publication of the motivations for the guilty verdict.

"I don't feel in any way guilty," said Enzo Boschi, former president of the National Geophysics and Vulcanology Institute (INGV).

Last October a L'Aquila court convicted Boschi and six others - all then members of Italy's Commission on Major Risks - to six years in prison over the 6.3-magnitude earthquake that killed more than 300 people and left tens of thousands homeless in and around the central Abruzzo city of L'Aquila on April 6, 2009.

The trial focused on one event in particular, in which the commission met on March 31 in L'Aquila to examine rumblings that had frightened residents for months.

In his sentence the judge slammed the experts for making "approximate, generic and ineffective" statements that were unduly reassuring and did not reflect the real level of risk the population faced. "Surely the judge does not think that after warning of Italy's seismic risks for years I would have suddenly said that in L'Aquila there was no risk of an earthquake?" said Boschi. "I have intimate belief in my colleagues' good faith," said current INGV President Stefano Gresta, adding that the distribution of information had however "certainly" been handled badly.

"It is not scientifically correct to examine what should have been done before an event once this event has taken place," he said. The seven defendants have appealed against the verdict and their case is due to be heard later this year.

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