A group of Italian earthquake experts went on trial Tuesday for manslaughter for allegedly not properly warning the public before the deadly 2009 L'Aquilla earthquake.
The disaster killed more than 300 people and reduced much of the central Italian city to rubble.
The seven defendants include scientists and government officials. They are accused of giving incomplete and contradictory information to residents about tremors felt before the quake.
Prosecutors say people should have been warned to leave their homes before the quake hit.
The defendants are drawing support from seismologists around the world who say it is impossible to predict earthquakes. More than 5,000 researchers signed a petition supporting their Italian colleagues, warning that the risk of litigation could discourage scientists from issuing opinions.
Much of Tuesday's trial was taken up by procedural measures. The next session is scheduled for October 1.