The first stage of the trial in L'Aquila (Italy) ended with a conviction of seven experts, convened by the head of Civil Protection on 31 March 2009, for multiple manslaughter and serious injuries. They were sentenced to six years in jail, perpetual interdiction from public office and a fine of several million euros to be paid to the victims of the earthquake of 6 April 2009 (moment magnitude 6.3) for having caused, by their negligent conduct, the death of 29 persons and the injury of several others. The verdict had a tremendous impact on the scientific community and on the way scientists deliver their expert opinions to decision makers and society. This paper analyses the scientific argumentations reported in the Verdict Motivations, where scientific data and results were largely debated and misused to demonstrate that they should have been considered as a tool to predict an impending large earthquake. Moreover, we show that the supposed message of reassurance was not generated at the experts’ meeting or by the official Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia reports. The media had a key role in conveying information during the seismic swarm, contributing to the risk perception. We stress that prevention actions based on seismic hazard knowledge are the best defence against earthquakes.