US treasure hunter ship free to leave Spain
19 October 2007, MADRID - DPA - Spanish police completed the inspection of MS Odyssey Explorer, a ship belonging to the US shipwreck recovery company Odyssey Marine Exploration, which Spain suspects of illegally taking away a Spanish treasure.
19 October 2007
MADRID - DPA - Spanish police completed the inspection of MS Odyssey Explorer, a ship belonging to the US shipwreck recovery company Odyssey Marine Exploration, which Spain suspects of illegally taking away a Spanish treasure.
The vessel was expected to leave the port of Algeciras on Friday, according to Spanish police sources.
The Odyssey Explorer was intercepted by Spanish police after leaving Gibraltar on Tuesday.
Its American captain was arrested on insisting that a representative of the Bahamas had to be present at the inspection, because the ship was registered in the Bahamas, police said.
The captain was released on Wednesday, but ordered to report regularly to the judiciary.
The inspection had been ordered by a Spanish judge as part of an investigation into whether Odyssey misappropriated Spanish property from an unidentified shipwreck.
The company, however, maintains that it has "always acted legally and with full transparency."
"We were informed this morning that the inspection of the vessel was complete and we understand that we will be free to leave" after the captain gives a statement and the judge issues the relevant order, Odyssey co-chairman Greg Stemm said.
"Our crew was treated courteously and the inspection was handled professionally" by Spanish police, he added.
The Odyssey Explorer left Gibraltar aware that it would be seized, according to Spanish media reports.
Culture Minister Cesar Antonio Molina on Wednesday described the company as "modern pirates" and accused it of creating a "circus" by inviting journalists on board the vessel.
Odyssey announced in May the recovery of more than 500,000 silver coins, as well as other artifacts, from a shipwreck the location of which it has not disclosed, except for saying that it is in international waters.
Odyssey has said it does not know the nationality of the wreck, dubbed the Black Swan, which Spain suspects to be Spanish.
The treasure, which is estimated to be worth 370 million euros (500 million dollars), has been taken to the United States. Spain and Odyssey are engaged in a legal battle over its ownership. dpa st pr
Subject: Spanish news