Treasure hunting boat released by Spanish police

18th July 2007, Comments 0 comments

18 July 2007, MADRID- A boat belonging to a Florida company caught up in a court battle with Spain over a $500 million sunken treasure was cleared to leave a Spanish port Tuesday after an inspection by Spanish police, authorities and the company said.

18 July 2007

MADRID-  A boat belonging to a Florida company caught up in a court battle with Spain over a $500 million sunken treasure was cleared to leave a Spanish port Tuesday after an inspection by Spanish police, authorities and the company said.

The Ocean Alert was seized on Thursday three nautical miles off the southeastern town of Algeciras by the Civil Guard.

They were were acting on the order of a Spanish judge, who in June instructed police to seize two vessels belonging to Odyssey Marine Exploration if they left the British colony of Gibraltar _ on Spain's southern tip _ and entered Spanish waters.

Odyssey, a treasure hunting company, said it had found the colonial-era shipwreck on May 18 and the coins have been flown to the United States from Gibraltar.

Spain filed claims last month in a U.S. federal court over Odyssey's find, arguing that if the shipwrecked vessel was Spanish or was removed from its waters, the treasure belongs to Spain.

"The inspection of the Ocean Alert has finished and the boat is free to go," said Guardia Civil spokeswoman Maite Sanchez. She added that the boat will most likely depart on Wednesday.

Sanchez said the Civil Guard would not release any information on the inspection.

Odyssey said on Tuesday that they were confident that the inspection was not going to reveal any illegal action.

"We were confident that an inspection by the Guardia Civil would not reveal any evidence of alleged activities in the area as we have always acted legally and have consistently communicated our movements in the area to the Guardia Civil and marine traffic authorities," said Greg Stemm, co-founder of Odyssey Marine Exploration.

"We are pleased to have the ship released so we can put it back to work on other shipwreck projects."

Odyssey insists the shipwreck was outside any country's territorial waters, but has not given its exact location or the ship's name.

According to a release from the company last week, Odyssey has provided a 109-page affidavit to authorities in the Spanish Federal government, the Junta de Andalucia, the United Kingdom, Gibraltar and the United States detailing Odyssey's activities concerning the discovery.

In Britain, the find generated press reports that Odyssey had salvaged the wreck of the long-sought British vessel Merchant Royal, which sank in bad weather off England in 1641. Odyssey has not confirmed or denied these reports.

[Copyright AP with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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