Thursday, June 4, 2009

Treasure hunter Greg Stemm ordered to hand over £300m [$485 Million] shipwreck coins

That is a lot of loot.
(booty, plunder)
From the Times of London:

American treasure hunters plundered a wreck of more than £300 million worth of gold and silver coins and must return the booty to Spain, a US court ruled yesterday.

Judge Mark Pizzo, in Tampa, Florida, gave the US company Odyssey Marine Exploration, which recovered 500,000 coins from a sunken ship off the Algarve coast two years ago, ten days to return them.

The Spanish Government says that they were taken from the Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes, a frigate that sank in 1804 laden with precious cargo from South America.

The legal victory for Spain comes after a bitter two-year court battle that pitted the US company against the Spanish state, which was enraged by what it saw as modern piracy.

Odyssey argued that the recovery was from international waters and said it would appeal against the decision. The coins will remain in the US until the appeal is heard. Judge Pizzo, however, ruled that a nation had a sovereign right to protect its assets and historical heritage, including sunken ships.

The treasure hunters recovered the gold and silver coins from a site codenamed Black Swan in 2007 and then revealed that they had spirited the haul to a base in Florida.

Spain laid claim to the treasure, insisting that it came from the Mercedes, which was sunk by a British ship, causing a war between the two countries. At one stage Spanish ships were deployed to stop Odyssey from making off with more treasure from the site, culminating in a warship threatening to open fire on an Odyssey vessel sailing out of Gibraltar....MORE

In other pirate news, from AFP:

French navy hands over four pirates

The French navy on Monday handed over four suspected pirates, two of them dead, to Somalia's northern breakaway region of Puntland, officials said....MORE