Moscow: A Russian jury on Friday acquitted the
captain and a sailor of an India-bound Nerpa nuclear
submarine, who were being tried for the death of 20 people by
toxic gas in 2008 after the accidental activation of fire
suppressant system of the vessel.
The Nerpa Captain Dmitry Lavrentyev and seaman Dmitry
Grobov, who allegedly set off the submarine fire safety system
"without authorisation and for no reason," were charged with
professional negligence resulting in death or injury.
The accident further delayed the delivery of the
submarine to India by three years, which now is expected to
join the Navy Day parade this December.
However, the jury at a naval court in the far eastern
port city of Vladivostok today acquitted the two, RIA Novosti
Naval prosecutors said they would appeal the decision.
The Akula-II class submarine was undergoing pre-delivery
trails in the Sea of Japan ahead of 10-year lease to the
Indian Navy, when on November 8, 2008 the toxic mixture of
Freon gas instantly killed people in the sleeping quarters.
"The jury did not acknowledge the fact of the release of
the fire-suppressant mixture," a Pacific Fleet prosecutor
said. "This is strange because this did happen."
Another 21 people were injured, in Russia`s worst naval
accident since the sinking of the Kursk nuclear submarine in
A former senior medical officer with the Pacific Fleet
alleged in May the Nerpa`s firefighting system contained a
"lethal" mixture of Freon and trichloroethylene - a commonly
used industrial solvent which is highly toxic and corrosive -
rather than pure Freon.