Russian jury acquits 2 on India-bound N-submarine

Russian jury acquits 2 on India-bound N-submarine 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 reported.

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 2000.

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.