Failure to predict quake not a crime, Italian court says

Failure to predict quake not a crime, Italian court says

Seven Italian scientists who faced jail for failing to predict a deadly 2009 earthquake were cleared Monday by an appeals panel.

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A file photo taken on July 8, 2009 shows a police officer walking by the Palazo de Governo in downtown L'Aquila after an April 2009 earthquake. AFP PHOTO / JOE KLAMAR

Italy quake experts win appeal in 'science on trial' case

ROME, AFP – Seven Italian scientists who faced jail for failing to predict a deadly 2009 earthquake were cleared Monday of manslaughter convictions that had sparked international outrage

The seven men were sentenced to six years in jail in October 2012 after a court in the medieval town of L'Aquila found them guilty of causing multiple deaths by having negligently downplayed the risk of the town being hit by a major earthquake just days before the killer tremor struck in April 2009.

But after a month-long appeal trial in the mountain town east of Rome, that verdict was overturned by a panel of three judges which concluded that six of the seven had committed no crime.

The judges partially upheld some of the charges against one defendant, Bernardo De Bernardinis but downgraded his sentence to a two-year suspended prison sentence that will not lead to him having a criminal record.

The initial verdict caused an outcry among scientists across the world, with many claiming that the prosecution of the experts had put science itself on trial.

Many compared the sentencing to the persecution of 17th Century astronomer Galileo, who, under threat of torture, was forced to recant his assertion that the Earth moves around the Sun.

The journal Nature called the verdict "perverse" and the sentencing "ludicrous" given the acknowledged impossibility of predicting earthquakes.

The seven convicted men were all members of a Major Risks Committee which met in L'Aquila on March 31, 2009, six days before the 6.3-magnitude quake struck the town, triggering the collapse of many inadequately constructed buildings within its walls and leaving thousands homeless.

The prosecution in the case had depicted the experts as having negligently played down the risk of a major quake, therefore persuading citizens who might otherwise have sought refuge outside or in safer buildings to stay in their homes.

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Vocabulary

  • acknowledge: to accept or admit that something exists, is true or is real - ยอมรับ
  • appeal: a request to a court to change a decision by a lower court - อุทธรณ์
  • assertion (noun): a statement saying that you strongly believe something to be true - การอ้าง, การกล่าวยืนยัน, การยืนยัน
  • astronomer: a scientist who studies astronomy, the scientific study of the sun, moon, stars, planets, etc. - นักดาราศาสตร์
  • charge : an official statement accusing someone of committing a crime - ข้อกล่าวหา
  • citizen: someone who has the right to live permanently in a particular country - พลเมือง 
  • claim: to say that something is true although it has not been proved and other people may not believe it - อ้าง
  • collapse: falling down suddenly - การพังลงมา  
  • commit: to do something wrong or illegal - ทำความผิด
  • conclude: to decide that something is true after looking at all the evidence you have - สรุป
  • construct: to build or make something, especially buildings, bridges, etc. - สร้าง
  • convicted: having been proven guilty of a crime by a court of law - ต้องโทษ, ได้รับการพิสูจน์ว่าข้อกล่าวหามีความผิดจริง
  • conviction: when someone is officially found to be guilty of a particular crime - การพิสูจน์ว่ากระทำผิด
  • crime: an illegal activity or action - อาชญากรรม
  • criminal record (noun): a police record of arrests and/or crimes that a person was found guilty of -
  • defendant: someone who has been accused of a crime and is on trial - จำเลย
  • depict: to represent or show something in a picture or story - พรรณนา, บรรยายให้เห็นภาพ
  • downgrade: to reduce someone or something to a lower rank or position - ลดความสำคัญ
  • downplay: to make something seem less important or less bad than it really is - แสดงหรืออธิบายถึงสิ่งใดสิ่งหนึ่งโดยแสร้งว่าไม่สำคัญหรือไม่แย่นัก
  • earthquake: a sudden shaking movement of the ground - แผ่นดินไหว
  • expert: someone who has a particular skill or who knows a lot about a particular subject - ผู้เชี่ยวชาญ
  • face: to (likely or possibly) have to deal with a problem - เผชิญ, พบ, เจอ
  • guilty: having been decided by a court of law that you committed the crime your were accused of - มีความผิด
  • inadequate: not enough, or not good enough for a particular purpose - อย่างไม่เพียงพอ
  • initial: early; first - เบื้องต้น
  • jail (noun): a prison - เรือนจำ, ห้องขัง, คุก
  • journal: a newspaper or magazine that deals with a particular subject or profession - นิตยสาร, วารสาร
  • ludicrous (adj): unreasonable; that you cannot take seriously - น่าเย้ยหยัน, น่าหัวเราะ, ไร้สาระจนน่าหัวเราะ
  • manslaughter: the crime of killing somebody illegally but not deliberately - การฆ่าคนโดยไม่ไตร่ตรองไว้ก่อน
  • medieval: connected with the Middle Ages (about AD 1000 to AD 1450) - เกี่ยวกับสมัยกลาง
  • multiple: many - มากมาย
  • negligent: not being careful or giving enough attention to people or things that are your responsibility - ละเลย,ไม่สนใจ
  • otherwise: if not; used for saying that if one thing does not happen or is not true, something else will happen, usually something bad - มิฉะนั้น, ไม่เช่นนั้น
  • outcry: a strong expression of anger and disapproval about something, made by a group of people or by the public - การคัดค้านอย่างรุนแรง
  • outrage: extreme anger - ความโกรธอย่างรุนแรง
  • overturn: to officially decide that a legal decision, etc. is not correct, and to make it no longer valid - ล้มล้าง
  • panel: a group of people who make decisions or judgments - คณะกรรมการ
  • partially: in part, but not completely - บางส่วน
  • persecution: unfair or cruel treatment over a long period of time because of race, religion, or political beliefs - การกลั่นแกล้ง, การข่มเหง, การข่มเหงรังแก
  • persuade: to make someone agree to do something by giving them reasons why they should - โน้มน้าวใจ เกลี้ยกล่อม
  • perverse (adj): showing deliberate determination to behave in a way that most people think is wrong, unacceptable or unreasonable - แปลกประหลาด, วิปลาส, ผิดธรรมดา
  • predict: to say that an event or action will happen in the future, especially as a result of knowledge or experience - คาดการณ์ว่า พยากรณ์จากสถิติว่า
  • prosecution: the process of accusing someone of a crime and asking a court of law to judge them - การดำเนินคดีตามกฎหมาย
  • recant (verb): to say, often publicly, that you no longer have the same belief or opinion that you had before - ถอนคำ, กลับคำให้การ, ถอนกลับ
  • risk: the possibility that something dangerous or unpleasant might happen - ความเสี่ยง
  • seek refuge: to try to find a safe place where you can protect yourself from something dangerous or threatening - หาที่หลบภัย,หาที่ปลอดภัย
  • sentence : (of a court of law) to give a punishment - ลงโทษ
  • sentence : a punishment given by a court of law - การตัดสินลงโทษ
  • spark: to make something happen, especially something bad - ก่อให้เกิด
  • suspended prison sentence (noun): a situation when the court decides that the person who has been proven guilty of a crime does not have to undergo the punishment given, usually under certain conditions - รอลงอาญา
  • threat (noun): an occasion when someone says or does something that indicates they will cause you harm or problems, especially if you do not do what they want you to do - การคุกคาม,การขู่เข็ญ
  • torture: causing great physical or mental pain to someone intentionally - ทรมานให้เจ็บปวด
  • tremor: a shaking of the earth; an earthquake - การสั่นสะเทือน
  • trial: the process of examining a case in a court of law and deciding whether someone is guilty (having committed a crime) or innocent (not having committed a crime) - การไต่สวนคดี
  • trigger: to cause - ก่อให้เกิด กระตุ้น
  • upheld (verb): when a higher court said a lower court decision was ok and denied an appeal to reverse the court's decision - พิพากษายืนตามคำตัดสินหรือวินิจฉัยของศาลชั้นต้น
  • verdict (noun): a decision by a court of law - คำพิพากษา

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