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VLADIVOSTOK, July 18 (Itar-Tass) — The Pacific Fleet Military Tribunal on Wednesday for the second time started the consideration of the criminal case over the accident at the Nerpa nuclear-powered submarine in which 20 people were killed. The case will be considered by a new panel of judges.
On May 3, the Military Collegium of the Russian Supreme Court satisfied a cassation representation of the Pacific Fleet’s military prosecutor against the acquittal in the criminal case of former commander of the submarine Dmitry Lavrentyev and former first sergeant Dmitry Grobov.
The accident occurred on November 8, 2008 during the sea trial of the submarine in the Sea of ·Japan (East Sea). An unauthorised activation of the automatic fire extinguishing system occurred on the submarine that was not yet adopted for service in the Russian Navy. As a result, 20 people were killed and another 38 got poisoning of varying degrees from exposure to carbon dichloride and Freon.
There were a total of 208 people aboard. The incident was the worst Russian submarine disaster since the Kursk submarine sinking in 2000. Three of the dead were military personnel and the rest were civilians from the Vostok, Zvezda, Era and Amur shipbuilding yards who were members of the acceptance team.
The commander of the submarine, Dmitry Lavrentyev, was charged with exceeding of authority that caused the death of two or more persons by negligence. The investigation alleged that he had not ensured the training of the crew in the work with new equipment and actions in emergency before the submarine’s sea trial.
The second defendant in the case – first sergeant Dmitry Grobov – was called directly responsible for the accident. According to a version of the prosecution, it was he who, while being on the watch, out of boredom pressed the buttons that activated the fire-extinguishing system. He was charged under two articles of the RF Criminal Code - “Causing the death by negligence of two or more persons as a result of improper performance of professional duties” and “causing grievous bodily harm by negligence, as a result of improper performance of professional duties.”
On October 14, 2011, based on the jury verdict, the Pacific Fleet Military Tribunal acquitted the commander of the submarine, Dmitry Lavrentyev, and the submarine’s first sergeant Dmitry Grobov. The jury came to the conclusion that the investigation failed to prove that it was the “human factor” that caused the activation of the submarine’s fire protection system that caused fatalities.
As a result, the military tribunal also rejected the victim families’ claims for moral damages and monetary compensation.