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Italy disaster head Luciano Maiani quits over L'Aquila

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One of the convicted experts in the court room. Photo:AFPThe head of Italy's disaster body, Luciano Maiani, has stepped down after seven colleagues were sentenced for their roles before the L'Aquila quake.

Six scientists and an ex-government official were convicted of multiple manslaughter for giving a falsely reassuring statement.

The 6.3 magnitude quake killed 309 people and left the city in ruins.

Mr Maiani, a physicist, said the Serious Risks Commission could not work "in such difficult conditions".

Speaking to Italy's Ansa news agency, he spoke of the "impossibility" of working calmly and providing high-quality scientific advice after the court's verdict.

The agency said resignations were also likely from the commission's vice president Mauro Rosi and its emeritus president.

The six-year jail sentences handed down by the court in L'Aquila on Monday shocked the scientific community.

While the seven men involved are appealing against their convictions, all are facing the prospect of being barred from ever holding public office again.

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.

Among those convicted were some of Italy's most prominent and internationally respected seismologists and geological experts, including the former head of Italy's Institute of Geophysics, Enzo Boschi, and the director of the European Centre for Earthquake Engineering, Gian Michele Calvi.

Their defence had called for their acquittal, arguing that it was impossible to predict an earthquake.

Prof Maiani is himself a world-renowned physicist, having been director general of the Cern nuclear research centre in Switzerland from 1999-2003.

Earlier, more than 5,000 scientists signed an open letter to Italian President Giorgio Napolitano in support of the group in the dock.

Those Convicted:

Franco Barberi, head of Serious Risks Commission

Enzo Boschi, former president of the National Institute of Geophysics

Giulio Selvaggi, director of National Earthquake Centre

Gian Michele Calvi, director of European Centre for Earthquake Engineering

Claudio Eva, physicist

Mauro Dolce, director of the the Civil Protection Agency's earthquake risk office

Bernardo De Bernardinis, former vice-president of Civil Protection Agency's technical department

October 23 2012, 17:59

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