The BBC reports that prosecutors said the scientists, who work for the National Commission for the Forecast and Prevention of Major Risks, "gave a falsely reassuring statement before the quake, while the defense maintained there was no way to predict major quakes."
According to NBC News, what happened is that L'Aquila had been feeling tremors in late March. One local man, who was not a scientist, made the prediction that a big one was on its way. Responding to the man on March 31, the group of scientists concluded it was "improbable" that the area would experience a major earthquake, "although they stopped short of entirely excluding the possibility."
On April 6, a magnitude 6.3 earthquake killed more than 300 poeple.
Andrew Revkin, over at The New York Times' Dot Earth blog, wrote about the case last year. He called the trial "a medieval-style attack on science."