The decision of an Italian court is a sad milestone in relationship between democracies and science:
At the end of a 13-month trial, six scientists and one government official have been found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to six years in prison. The verdict was based on how they assessed and communicated risk before the earthquake that hit the city of L'Aquila on 6 April 2009, killing 309 people.You know something is seriously wrong when a publication dedicated to science has to publish an article that says, among other things:
The verdict is perverse and the sentence ludicrous.The accusing finger is pointed not only at the judicial system that allowed this travesty, but at the country as a whole:
Science has little political clout in Italy and the trial proceeded in an absence of informed public debate that would have been unthinkable in most European countries or in the United States.What next, Italy? A show trial of meteorologists? To be followed by a witch hunt for dessert?