Top scientists in Italy are preparing to go on trial accused of playing down risks ahead of the 2009 earthquake in L'Aquila that killed 309 people.

The experts were members of a panel which met in L'Aquila before the earthquake to assess the danger level after hundreds of smaller tremors.

The increasing seismic activity unnerved the locals, but they told them there was nothing to worry about.

Six days later, the town was raised to the ground by a 6.3 magnitude earthquake.

Magistrates in L'Aquila claim the scientists provided "incomplete, imprecise and contradictory information" that stopped residents from taking precautions that fatal night.

The scientists are now facing manslaughter charges.

Scientists from around the world have condemned the trial, saying it is simply impossible to predict an earthquake.

It could take months, or even years, before the trial concludes, but its outcome might change the way scientists warn the public about any future risks.

Al Jazeera's Claudio Lavanga reports from L'Aquila.

Source: Al Jazeera