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Argentinean frigate leaves Ghana after winning UN court battle

 
 
 
 
 
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Sailors prepare to board Argentinean frigate Libertad in Tema, Ghana on December 19, 2012, after an international tribunal ordered its release.

An Argentinean warship has left Ghana after a UN court ordered its release following an injunction by a US hedge fund to detain it in Accra.

Port spokesman Lawrence Atumbine said the Libertad set sail from the port of Tema after Ghana’s Supreme Court “nullified” a domestic court order over the frigate’s detention.

Buenos Aires had flown over almost 100 navy personnel to reclaim and operate the three-masked ship for its return journey across the Atlantic, Atumbine said.

Argentina on Saturday won a court battle against Ghana over the detention of the Libertad in the UN International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea held in Germany. The ruling demanded that Accra release the vessel by December 22.

Back in October, NML Capital, a subsidiary of US hedge fund Elliot Capital Management, first ordered Ghanaian courts to detain the ship and demanded USD 20 million for its release as a partial claim to Argentina’s USD 370 million of unpaid debt.

Buenos Aires disputed Ghana’s detention of the vessel, claiming it had “violated the norms of international law that confer immunity on ships of war.”

Ghanaian officials say the dispute was strictly between NML and Buenos Aires.

“We have always been at pains to demonstrate that as far as the matter is concerned, Ghana has no [problems] with Argentina,” Ghanaian Foreign Minister Mohammed Mumuni said.

Argentina has managed a large proportion of its debt after an economic crisis and a hefty default a decade ago, but bonds in the hands of so-called “vulture funds” like NML remain unsettled.

“Argentina will continue to defend itself from financial pirates. Vultures will not prevail,” Argentinean Economy Minister Hernan Lorenzino said in an online statement on Wednesday.

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