Four guilty of manslaughter in Italy quake trial

ROME (AFP) - Three Italian builders and a technician were found guilty on Saturday of multiple manslaughter after a dormitory collapsed during an earthquake in the town of L'Aquila in 2009, killing eight students.

Bernardino Pace, Pietro Centofanti and Tancredi Rossicone, who carried out restoration works on the house in 2000, were given four years behind bars each.

The prosecution had accused them of weakening the 1960s building further. Pietro Sebastiani, a technician for Adsu, the university housing body which had been asked to check the dormitory a week before the deadly quake and had declared it safe, was sentenced to two years and six months in jail.

All four have been banned from working on public contracts for five years. They were also ordered by the judge to pay 100,000 euros (S$165,346) to each parent who lost a child, as well as 50,000 euros to each brother or sister.

The medieval town of L'Aquila and surrounding villages were hit on April 6, 2009 by a 6.3-magnitude quake which killed 309 people and devastated buildings.

In October last year, six Italian scientists and a government official were found guilty in a watershed trial of multiple manslaughter for underestimating the risks of the killer earthquake and failing to alert the population.

All seven members of Italy's Major Risks Committee, who had reassured locals and led many to stay indoors when the first tremors hit, got six years in jail.

Huge mounds of rubble still lie in the streets in the off-limits zone in L'Aquila's city centre and in the surrounding villages, a potent reminder of the widespread destruction caused by the quake, almost four years on.

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