Diplomatic row erupts over EUR 4m of sunken treasure
26 January 2006, MADRID — Spain has asked the US government to stop 'immediately' the activities of an American survey company which is searching treasure on the wreck of a 17th British galleon.
26 January 2006
MADRID — Spain has asked the US government to stop 'immediately' the activities of an American survey company which is searching treasure on the wreck of a 17th British galleon.
The foreign ministry sent a letter to the US embassy asking it to stop the work of Odyssey Marine Explorations at the site of the wreck of HMS Sussex, which sank in 1694 with EUR 4 million worth of treasure aboard.
It asked Washington to stop "with immediate effect" the work of the Florida-based firm, which has been diving at the site with the permission of the British government.
The Spanish authorities said the company has not complied with earlier agreements made with Spain over how it would carry out the search, including having an observer to watch its work.
HMS Sussex sank in a storm off Gibraltar while on carrying ten tonnes of gold and 100 silver ingots which were a gift from Britain to the Duke of Savoy to encourage him to side against the French.
The British government gave Odyssey permission last year to excavate the site.
Under international law, Britain has a right to search the wreck of British vessels anywhere in the world.
If Odyssey ever find any treasure, it stands to get a large pay-off for its work.
The latest demand from Spain is the result of a long-running international feud between Madrid, the US and Britain over the wreck.
The US embassy has so far not replied to the letter.
The Spanish group Ecologists in Action claimed the American company is not carrying outarchaeological work where the HMS Sussex sank in the Straits of Gibraltar but is simply "treasure-hunting".
The high court in Andalusia also ordered the American company to stop exploring the site of the wreck.
The ecological group has accused the American of ignoring the court order to stop exploring the site in a ship and instead sending items to a British laboratory for examination.
Odyssey Marine Explorations denies the claims and says under international law it has the right to explore the site.
The captain of its ship 'Odyssey' was called to appear in court last week but sent his lawyer.
The lawyer claimed the ship does not need the authorisation of the regional government of Andalusia because the sunken ship was flying a British flag and under international law signed by Spain, the wrecks of ships can be explored by nationals from the same country.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news