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Ongoing treasure battle between US and Spain back in court
• The Odyssey Marine has been ordered to return some 500 million euros of Spanish spoils
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CONTROVERSIAL treasure hunting company Odyssey has told a US court it refuses to recognize Spain as the owner of a massive treasure bounty recovered from the ‘Black Swan.’
In the latest court battle, the Florida based company called for a reversal of the 2009 decision that recognized Spain as rightful owner of the 17 ton galleon treasure.
“The district court erred in awarding Spain the coins. Without jurisdiction over the property, the court has no authority to dispose of the coins other than to return them to the party in possession at the time the matter came before the court,” its lawyers said.
It comes after the company found more than half a million silver coins and hundreds of gold objects from a ship they code-named the “Black Swan,” in May, 2007.
Spain immediately contested the treasure from the ship, which sunk in 1804 in the Straits of Gibraltar.
It argued that the shipwreck was a Spanish military vessel – not a private commercial ship – and was found in Spanish waters.
And in his ruling the judge confirmed that the Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes was a Spanish naval vessel and that any cargo is the “natural and legal patrimony of Spain.”
But that ruling is now under appeal, with Odyssey arguing that Spain’s claim is baseless in part because the Mercedes was a commercial vessel.
A decision could now take “some weeks or months,” according to Odyssey.
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