Italian court convicts four more over l′Aquila quake | News | DW | 16.02.2013
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Italian court convicts four more over l'Aquila quake

A court in l'Aquila has convicted four people of manslaughter after a university dormitory collapsed in a 2009 earthquake, killing eight students. The defendants were involved in restoration work on the building.

On Saturday, three Italian builders and a university housing body technician were convicted on eight counts of manslaughter in l'Aquila over their responsibility for a university dormitory that collapsed in the April 6, 2009, earthquake in the Apennine mountain town.

Eight students died when the building collapsed in the aftermath of the magnitude 6.3 quake that killed 309 people in total.

Three of the people convicted who had carried out restoration works on the dormitory in 2000 were each sentenced to four years in prison. The fourth, a technician for the university housing body Adsu, had declared the building safe one week before the quake - he was sentenced to two years and six months in prison.

All of them were banned from working on public contracts for a five-year period. They were also ordered to pay 100,000 euros ($133,800) to each parent who lost a child and a further 50,000 euros to each brother or sister.

Four others were acquitted in the case.

Previous convictions

Seven natural disaster experts were convicted in a separate trial last year, deemed to have inadequately warned people about the risks of a quake in a special meeting called in response to comparatively minor seismic activity shortly before the April disaster.

A special meeting of the National Committee for Great Risks convened one week ahead of the quake, and announced that the group considered it "unlikely" that a larger tremor would follow the smaller ones. The experts did warn, however, that "there are no instruments to make forecasts" on seismic activity.

Prosecutors alleged in that case, however, that the perceived "all clear" message meant that people stayed in their homes when the larger quake struck, rather than seeking to get to safety.

Last month Judge Marco Billi released his written explanation for the October 2012 verdict, a common practice in Italian law, saying he had found that "the statements made regarding the risk assessment of the seismic activity in the l'Aquila area were absolutely vague, generic and ineffective."

Much of the old town center of l'Aquila remains in ruins, nearly four years on. Regional Aid Minister Fabrizio Barca told the dpa news agency in January that reconstruction work could take "10-12 years."

msh/lw (AFP, AP, dpa)