Defense witnesses give testimony in Nerpa submarine accident retrial
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VLADIVOSTOK, April 2 - RAPSI, Ilya Gorbunov. The court called an adjournment in the retrial of the Nerpa nuclear submarine accident case until Thursday after the defense' attorneys finished questioning their witnesses, defense lawyer Sergei Bondar said on Tuesday.
On November 8, 2008, the Akula-II class nuclear attack submarine Nerpa was running sea trials in the Sea of Japan in the western Pacific when its freon-based fire extinguishing system malfunctioned, killing 20 of 208 people on board and injuring 21.
Captain Dmitry Lavrentyev was charged with abuse of power and engineer Dmitry Grobov was accused of causing death by negligence. The jury acquitted both on September 14, 2011, but the Supreme Court's military board overturned the verdict in May 2012. The military board also demanded a retrial.
"The court approved nearly all of our witnesses and allowed them to participate," Bondar said. "However, unlike during the first trial, the prosecution repeatedly tried to stall the process. This was no surprise, but it was difficult, nonetheless. On the other hand, I believe the witnesses testimony and arguments were of benefit to the defense. The court is adjourned until Thursday."
Bondar claims that the prosecution is much better prepared this time, hence the trial is proving to be more complex than the first time around. However, he is confident that the defense has strong enough arguments to get an acquittal.
The prosecution, however, is of a different opinion, according to Roman Kolbanov, assistant prosecutor of the Pacific Fleet. The Prosecutors Office continues to insist that Lavrentyev and Gronov are guilty and ought to be punished.
"We think that the defense witnesses have not really said anything new," Kolbanov said. "Nor are their statements based on solid facts. The most important part of the hearing is due on Thursday - the questioning of the prosecution witnesses."