Spain sues US treasure hunters over Sussex booty

31st May 2007, Comments 0 comments

31 May 2007, MADRID - The Spanish government said Thursday it has filed a lawsuit in a U.S. federal court against an American treasure-hunting firm over a shipwreck the company has found laden with a colonial-era treasure.

31 May 2007

MADRID - The Spanish government said Thursday it has filed a lawsuit in a U.S. federal court against an American treasure-hunting firm over a shipwreck the company has found laden with a colonial-era treasure.

If the vessel was Spanish or was removed from Spanish waters, any treasure would belong to Spain, Spain says.

"Odyssey Marine Exploration has been requested in a letter to provide information concerning the identity of the ship and the material recovered, and has not responded with the details we were asking for," said Susana Tello, Culture Ministry spokeswoman.

"Spain has decided to go to (the) courts to claim its right in case the discovery is Spanish," she added.

Tello said the lawsuit was filed at the Tampa Courts, in Florida, on May 29.

Odyssey announced two week ago it had discovered a shipwreck it has codenamed "Black Swan" and 500,000 gold and silver coins somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean.

It only described the ship as a 17th-century merchant vessel that sank about 40 miles (65 kilometers) off the southwestern tip of England. But the Florida-based company would not say exactly where the ship was or name it, citing security concerns, and said the site was outside any country's territorial waters.

Odyssey has said that the ship was not in Spanish territorial waters and was not HMS Sussex, a shipwreck that Odyssey recently got permission from the Spanish government to search for in the Strait of Gibraltar.

But Spain has called the new discovery suspicious and said the booty may have come from a wrecked Spanish galleon.

Tello said the Kingdom of Spain is represented by the U.S law firm Covington & Burling, which have represented Spain over shipwreck cases before, involving the recovery of material from two ships, Juno and La Galga, in a 2000 court case. The Spanish government won the case at that time.

[Copyright AP with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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