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Italian scientists face prosecution

Nine scientists are being investigated for their alleged role in enabling an outbreak of a disease that is killing olive tress in Puglia, Italy, it has been reported.

Prosecutors have accused researchers of spreading the disease caused by the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa, which is passed between trees by the spittlebug insect, the science magazine Nature has reported. The public official in charge of containing the epidemic is also under investigation.

A formal investigation was announced by public prosecutors on 18 December at a press conference in Lecce, in southern Italy. Prosecutors also ordered a halt to the culling of infected tree—stating that too little is understood about the science of the disease to justify containment measures.

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