Italy disaster head Luciano Maiani quits over L’Aquila
The head of Italy’s disaster body, Luciano Maiani, has resigned in protest at prison sentences passed on seven colleagues over the 2009 earthquake in L’Aquila. Six scientists and an ex-official were convicted of multiple manslaughter for giving a falsely reassuring statement.
Prof Maiani, a physicist, said the Serious Risks Commission could not work “in such difficult conditions”.
The 6.3-magnitude quake killed 309 people and left the city in ruins.
Prof Maiani’s decision to quit was announced by the Italy’s Civil Protection Department, which said the commission’s vice-president, Mauro Rosi, and emeritus president Giuseppe Zamberletti had also tendered their resignations.
“The situation created by yesterday’s sentence… is incompatible with running the commission’s work in a calm and efficient manner and with its role of giving high level advice to the organs of the state,” Mr Maiani said in a statement on the department’s website.
“A scientific committee has to give in its own judgement… The advice may be wrong. Or it may be imprecise. But if you have such a heavy punishment the committee will not act properly,” he later told the BBC’s Newshour.
“A committee will tend to be, always, on the very, very conservative side. I think there is a definite danger that scientific communities will refrain from giving advice to the government.”
Prof Maiani, a world-renowned physicist who was director general of the Cern nuclear research centre in Switzerland from 1999-2003, said the possibility of being judged for your scientific judgement was a “serious problem”.
“In this condition, and with this precedent, I would not take the job,” he added.
‘Perverse and ludicrous’
The group, all members of the National Commission for the Forecast and Prevention of Serious Risks, were accused of having provided “inaccurate, incomplete and contradictory” information about the danger of the tremors felt ahead of the 6 April 2009 quake.
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