The defense attorney for the convicted has argued that the scientists noticed a relatively small increase of activity which prompted them to discuss the issue at the National Commission for the Forecast and Prevention of Major Risks conference. During that meeting seismologists and geologists all agreed that the result of issuing a public warning could create a panic which could result in widespread violence and looting, and because there is no real way to predict an earthquake, it didn’t make much sense to issue a warning. However, a few days after the conference, the earthquake struck.
Now the scientists will face long term prison sentences, which could result in other scientists not reporting any finding for fear of prosecution if they are wrong or that they don’t issue warnings in an aggressive enough manner. Defense lawyers intend on appealing the convictions partly due to the fact that the trial was held in the town of L’Aquila, where most of the victims lived and worked, thus the jury was potentially emotionally biased against the defendants rendering a fair trial unlikely.