Russia acquits nuclear sub captain over gas deaths

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 30, 2011 6:39 AM
Russia acquits nuclear sub captain over gas deaths

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia (Reuters) - A Russian jury on Friday acquitted the captain of a nuclear submarine in which 20 people were killed by toxic gas when a fire safety system misfired, his lawyer said.

Lawyer Sergei Bondar said the court also exonerated a sailor who had been accused of setting off the Nerpa's fire-fighting system, filling the submarine with gas that killed 20 people during trials in the Sea of Japan in November 2008.

The prosecution said it would appeal against the decision to pardon the captain, accused of failing to train crew adequately, and the sailor.

The accident was the deadliest in a string of Russian naval tragedies since 2000, when the Kursk nuclear submarine exploded beneath the Barents Sea, killing all 118 sailors on board.

The Kremlin has sharply increased funding to the navy but has struggled to reform the accident-prone image of its largely Soviet-era fleet.

Russia, the world's second-biggest arms exporter, has said it will lease the Nerpa to India.

(Writing By Alexei Anishchuk)