chapter  7
Legal scholarship and disasters
Pages 13

In 2009 a horrible earthquake shook L’Aquila, Italy (pop. 73,150). The disaster caused the death of 309 people and destroyed the medieval town.1 However, it was seven unharmed individuals that hit the global headlines in the aftermath of the disaster, commonly referred to as the L’Aquila Seven. The L’Aquila Seven had, in their capacity as publicly designated risk experts2 – just a week before the quake – informed the inhabitants that there was no risk of a major earthquake. As a result, the L’Aquila Seven were charged with involuntary manslaughter. According to these charges, the information provided by the L’Aquila Seven was not in keeping with their actual knowledge (i.e. they were in fact aware of the risk of a major earthquake), or with the state-of-the-art seismological scientific knowledge. Thus, the Seven should have known the risks were bigger than assessed during their meeting before the disaster event.