The deadly earthquake that struck the central Italian city of L'Aquila on 6 April 2009, has had a bizarre aftershock: some of Italy's top seismologists could face charges of manslaughter for not alerting the population before the disaster. The indictment has outraged experts around the world, who note that earthquakes cannot be predicted and who say that the Italian government neglected to enforce building codes that could have reduced the toll.
The indictments, issued on 3 June by the L'Aquila public prosecutor's office, name six scientists as being investigated for manslaughter in relation to the earthquake. In Italy, this step usually precedes a request for a court trial, and is meant to allow the accused time to prepare their defence. The list comprises Enzo Boschi, president of the National Institute for Geophysics and Vulcanology (INGV) in Rome, the main institute in charge of seismic monitoring; Giulio Selvaggi, director of the National Earthquake Center based at INGV; Franco Barberi, a volcanologist at the University of 'Roma Tre'; Claudio Eva, a professor of earth physics at the University of Genoa; Mauro Dolce, head of the seismic risk office in the Italian government's Civil Protection Agency; and Gian Michele Calvi, director of the European Centre for Training and Research in Earthquake Engineering in Pavia. A government official, Bernardo De Bernardinis, deputy technical head of the Civil Protection Agency, is also under investigation.