LONDON, Oct 25 (Xinhua) -- Heads of Britain's Royal Society and U.S. National Academy of Sciences issued a joint statement on Thursday regarding the recent conviction of Italian earthquake scientist.
"The case of six Italian scientists sentenced to be jailed for failing to warn the L'Aquila earthquake in Italy in 2009 highlights the difficult task facing scientists in dealing with risk communication and uncertainty," Paul Nurse, president of the Royal Society which is Britain's academy of sciences, and Ralph J. Cicerone, president of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, said in the joint statement.
They said "it is not always possible" for scientists to provide simple, clear-cut answers to the problems that we face, and the sensible course is to turn to expert scientists who can provide evidence and advice to the best of their knowledge.
"They will sometimes be wrong, but we must not allow the desire for perfection to be the enemy of good," the statement added.
"That is why we must protest the verdict in Italy. If it becomes a precedent in law, it could lead to a situation in which scientist will be afraid to give expert opinion for fear of prosecution or reprisal."
Meanwhile, the academic journal Nature protested in an editorial published on the same day, pointing out that the verdict made by Italian judge Marco Billi was not final, and the scientists can remain free while they are appealing against the verdict -- a process that could take years.
"That provides an opportunity. There will be time enough to ponder the wider implications of the verdict. But for now, all efforts should be channeled into protest," said the editorial.
"Billi should promptly explain his decision, and the scientific community should promptly challenge it," it added.
Six Italian scientists were sentenced to six years in prison on Monday, on ground that they failed to evaluate the risk before the earthquake that hit the city of L'Aquila on April 6 2009, killing 309 people.