The verdict drew ire and condemnation from seismologists and other earth scientists around the globe.
"The idea is ridiculous, to hold scientists responsible for public policy," said Chris Goldfinger, a professor of geology and geophysics at Oregon State University, on the day of the verdict. "First, scientists have almost zero ability to predict earthquakes, and second, have no direct responsibility for public policy. Something has gone seriously wrong in the Italian legal system."
The defendants' attorneys, in their appeals, are asking for the verdict to be overturned and all charges dropped, Nature News reports. They are arguing that all of the statements made during the March 31 meeting were scientifically accurate, and that political authorities, not this panel, should have the responsibility of informing the public of the risk.
Knowing whether small quakes are foreshocks for a larger temblor is impossible, according to seismologists. A 1988 study of other quake-prone Italian regions found, for example, that about half of large quakes were preceded by weaker foreshocks. But only 2 percent of small quake swarms heralded a larger rupture.