22/10/2012 09:42 BST | Updated 22/10/2012 10:23 BST

L'Aquila Earthquake: Verdict Due On Scientists Charged With Manslaughter For Not Predicting Disaster

Six Italian scientists and an ex-government official will discover on Monday whether they will be found guilty of manslaughter over a 2009 earthquake that killed 309 people.

The 6.3 magnitude quake struck L'Aquila, the capital of Abruzzo in the centre of the nation, damaging betweetn 3,000 and 11,000 buildings and leaving 40,000 homeless.

Prosecutors allege that the defendants gave "inexact, incomplete and contradictory information" about whether smaller tremors that preceded the quake were a sign that a major disaster was about to strike.

A lawyer addresses the court during the trial

This, said the prosecution, gave residents a false sense of security.

Seismologists are extremely concerned about a possible precedent being set for prosecuting scientists over events such as this, which they say are very difficult to predict accurately.

Over 5,000 have signed a petition supporting the defendants, who were part of Italy's Serious Risks Commission, according to the BBC.

It reported Government lawyer Carlo Sica as saying that "they are not guilty of anything, the earthquake's no-one's fault".