A group of Italian scientists went on trial yesterday accused of manslaughter for playing down the risks before an earthquake in L'Aquila in 2009 that killed more than 300 people and razed the medieval city to the ground.
Prosecutors say the six experts and one senior official should have warned people of the danger in the days leading up to the April 6 quake.
The international scientific community has rallied around them, arguing they could not have predicted the 6.3-magnitude quake.
The seven were members of a panel that had met six days before the disaster to assess risk after tremors had shaken the walled city. The committee concluded that there was no evidence to suggest a major quake was imminent.
Prosecutors say the panel gave overly reassuring information to local people, who might otherwise have taken steps to protect themselves.
The next hearing is on October 1.