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Italy disaster chief quits in protest at quake ruling

ROME--The head of Italy's top disaster body quit in protest Tuesday after seven of its members were sentenced to six years in jail for manslaughter for underestimating the risks of a deadly 2009 earthquake.

Luciano Maiami told the ANSA news agency he had resigned as head of the Major Risks Committee because “there aren't the conditions to work serenely,” a day after the watershed ruling that sent shockwaves through the international scientific community.

The seven defendants are appealing Monday's ruling by the court in the medieval town of L'Aquila in central Italy, an area devastated by the April 2009 quake that killed 309 people.

Maiami, one of Italy's top physicists and a former head of top particle physics laboratory Cern in Geneva, criticized the verdict as “a big mistake.”

“These are professionals who spoke in good faith and were by no means motivated by personal interests, they had always said that it is not possible to predict an earthquake,” he told the Corriere della Sera newspaper.

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