23 Dec 2012

Detained ship set free

1:55 pm on 23 December 2012

An Argentine navy ship detained in Ghana since October has been released and has now left the country.

The Libertad set sail fromthe port of Tema after a United Nations court last week ordered its release.

Argentina sent almost 100 personnel to crew the three-masted training ship, which was impounded after a financial fund said it was owed money by Argentina's government as a result of a debt default a decade ago.

The UN Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in Germany ordered Ghana last Saturday to release the ship, arguing that it had immunity because it was a military vessel. It set a deadline of 22 December for the ship to have left the port.

The BBC reports the diplomatic dispute began when the ship was prevented from leaving Ghana on 2 October, after a court there ruled in favour of NML Capital. The fund is a subsidiary of Elliot Capital Management, which is one of Argentina's former creditors.

The fund said it was owed $US370 million by the Argentine government after the country defaulted on its debt in 2001 and 2002.

NML Capital was seeking $US20 million in return for the release of the Libertad.

Most of the loans on which Argentina defaulted were subsequently restructured, giving creditors about 30% of their money back.

However, the BBC reports some creditors including Elliot chose to hold out, pursuing the Argentine government through the courts.