Six seismologists and one political official are being charged for manslaughter, for the 300 deaths that occurred due to the 2009 L'Aquila quake. An Italian judge made the decision to try the scientists, because they were not able to accurately warn the public about the deadly earthquake. A swarm of earthquakes had occurred days before, and this lead courts to believe that the biggest earthquake should have been predicted and citizens warned.
John Vidale, a seismologist and professor at the University of Washington, told reporters that "We get swarms of earthquakes all the time without a big earthquake. There was nothing strange about this swarm to suggest a big earthquake."
There is currently no system in place to predict earthquakes, and scientists say that it is still a very long ways off. Scientists are unable to know what will cause one earthquake to be larger than another. As Professor Vidale says, “we don't know how much stress it takes to break a fault.”