LIMA – The Peruvian government will appeal the ruling by a U.S. judge who recommended the return to Spain of the $500 million in gold and silver coins that a Florida firm salvaged from a colonial-era Spanish shipwreck at the bottom of the Atlantic.
“We have sufficient reasonable incidations and the right to reclaim (the treasure) as ours and that it be returned to Peru,” prosecutor Katty Aquize said in a communique from the Peruvian Justice Ministry.
A U.S. federal magistrate accepted Spain’s contention that the treasure was removed from the wreck of the Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes, a Spanish frigate that went down in an October 1804 battle with the English fleet off the coast of southern Portugal.
Aquize said that Peru does not dispute that the ship is Spanish property, but “the discussion centers on the vessel’s cargo, which is to say, on the 17 tons of coins and articles of gold and silver that came from Peru.”
“That is the point under discussion,” she said.
The prosecutor recalled that the time allowed for appealing Judge Mark Pizzo’s ruling is 10 days.
The treasure aboard the Mercedes was lost for more than 200 years, until the Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. announced its $500 million find a little over two years ago.
Odyssey has also announced that it will appeal the case with several arguments: that it is impossible to prove that these coins were part of the ship’s treasure, that the ship was on a commercial mission and that the cargo it was transporting belonged to private individuals and not to the Spanish state. EFE