Judge Rules Against Explorers In Treasure Dispute

Published February 1, 2012 1:45PM (EST)

ATLANTA (AP) — A federal judge has ruled against a deep-sea exploration company in a dispute with Spain over 17 tons of silver coins recovered from a sunken 19th century Spanish galleon.

Florida-based Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc., which found the treasure off the Portuguese coast in 2007, had requested a stay after a federal court in Atlanta ruled last year the explorers must give the treasure back to the Spanish government.

In an order Tuesday, a U.S. circuit court judge denied the company's motion for a stay.

In court documents, the exploration firm said it wanted to stay the proceedings until the U.S. Supreme Court could consider the case.

Odyssey had said in court filings that such a denial might mean Spain will keep the treasure forever. Spain's position is that it is not subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S. courts, Odyssey said.

So "it is certainly reasonable to assume that should the cargo recovered by Odyssey be transferred to Spain, it will never be returned to the Odyssey or to the United States for proper adjudication of claims," the exploration company wrote in court documents requesting the stay.

Calls to Odyssey were not immediately returned Wednesday morning.

By Salon Staff

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