As reported a while ago, a number of scientists are to face trial in Italy for failing to correctly evaluate the risk of the L'Aquila earthquake in Italy (2009) and communicate this to the public. They are to be charged with manslaughter. The L'Aquila earthquake, measuring 6.3 on the Moment Magnitude scale, and killing over three hundred people was Italy's deadliest quake in recent times.
This week their trial begins, and many scientists involved in hazard assessment will be watching with a keen interest and much anticipation. BBC Newsnight have produced an article discussing the trial and there is also an interesting article on Nature News by Willy Aspinall, former chief scientist at the Montserrat Volcano Observatory in the Caribbean. He highlights one of the main dangers of this trial - that experienced, knowledgeable and professionals in the field will be much more reluctant to give advice shaping policy and decisions then before - essentially making life even more difficult for town planners etc.
As the trial progresses we will continue to report the latest developments.