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Italy disaster experts quit over quake trial

The April 2009 earthquake that devastated the Italian town of L’Aquila left 308 people dead.

Pier Paolo Cito/AP/File

The April 2009 earthquake that devastated the Italian town of L’Aquila left 308 people dead.

ROME — Four top Italian disaster specialists quit their posts Tuesday, saying the manslaughter convictions of former colleagues for failing to adequately warn of a deadly 2009 earthquake mean they cannot effectively perform their duties.

A court in the quake-devastated town of L’Aquila convicted seven former members of Italy’s so-called Great Risks Commission and sentenced each of them to six years in prison, prompting predictions that specialists would be discouraged from working in Italy for fear of similar risks of prosecution.

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Commission president Luciano Maiani and two other members resigned, along with a top official for earthquake and volcano risk in the national Department of Civil Protection. Maiani said Monday’s court ruling made it impossible to work in a ‘‘calm and efficient’’ way.

Prosecutors alleged the defendants did not properly inform town residents of the risk of a big quake following weeks of small tremors. But scientists have said earthquakes cannot be accurately predicted.

Appeals are expected.

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