Photo: Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes
U.S. divers who found more than 17 tons of buried treasure have been ordered by a federal appeals court to give the findings to Spain.
The exploration team has stated that it plans to appeal the ruling after a three-judge panel ruled that the “finders keepers” rule does not apply to the treasure estimated to be worth about $500 million.
In 1804, the Nuestra Senor de las Mercedes was sunk by British warships in while sailing back form South America. In May 2007, Tampa-based Odyssey Marine Exploration announced that it had recovered more than 500,000 silver coins and other artifacts from the sunken ship.
The Spanish government, upon hearing of he recovery, claimed that the artifacts and coins belong to them as the ship was Spanish, and because ownership of the ship and its cargo was never surrendered.
According to Fox News, Odyssey has argued that the wreck was never positively identified as the Nuestra Senora, and even if it were the ship, it had been on a commercial trade trip - not a sovereign mission - when it sank, meaning Spain would have no claim to the “treasure”.