US court ruling keeps location of shipwreck treasure secret
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    Dec 2007
    Culdesac, Idaho
    106 times

    US court ruling keeps location of shipwreck treasure secret

    WASHINGTON (AFP) - US treasure hunters who allegedly extracted rich spoils from a sunken wreck in Spanish waters hailed three court rulings Wednesday that protect the secret location of their find.


    The legal dispute began in May last year when Odyssey Marine Exploration announced that it had found half a million silver coins and hundreds of gold objects, somewhere in "international waters in the Atlantic Ocean".

    Spain filed claims with a court in Tampa, Florida, arguing that if the shipwreck was Spanish or located in Spanish waters, any treasure would belong to Spain.

    Odyssey said in a statement that US judge Mark Pizzo had issued three orders "that the company believes will help to expeditiously move these cases forward".

    Two of the rulings were made in reference to a Spanish request to "compel compliance and to declare certain materials as not confidential", it said.

    The judge ruled that although artifact summaries and pictures are not confidential, "in the interest of protecting the site, other information including the preliminary site assessments, the site plans, the photographs of the sea bed and the photomosaics should remain confidential at this time."

    Odyssey also said the court indicated that the company does not have to open its research files to the Spanish government "at this stage of the litigation and that the information Odyssey has provided to Spain thus far is sufficient".

    Odyssey has argued that the fact the coins have been identified as being Spanish does not mean they were found on a Spanish ship.

    Spanish police seized and searched two Odyssey Explorer vessels as they left Gibraltar in July and October, acting on the orders of a Spanish judge looking into the origin of the sunken treasure.

    A judge in Florida earlier this year ordered Odyssey to tell Spain the exact location of the wreck. The information will remain confidential to protect the interests of the company, which fears other treasure seekers may poach its find.



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