In a closely watched trial, prosecutors who argued that a group of Italian scientists is accountable for not adequately warning residents about the risks of an earthquake in the town of L'Aquila have succeeded. 

The Italian scientific community has naturally been concerned; how can you penalize people for not doing the impossible? Nevertheless, legal minds have found that the seven scientists charged with manslaughter for failing to predict an earthquake and alerting residents to evacuate their homes are to blame. The court in L'Aquila Monday evening handed down six-year-prison sentences to the defendants, members of a national "Great Risks Commission."

The L'Aquila 2009 earthquake killed 309 people, left 1,500 injured and 65,000 homeless. The city is a major fault line and large numbers of small tremors -- "swarms" -- are common in the area. 

Can you predict an earthquake?  Unless you are absolutely certain, avoid geology in Italy.

L'Aquila quake: Italy scientists guilty of manslaughter, BBC