May 10, 2010 6:26 PM

Battle over half billion in booty

Florida deep-sea explorers are appealing a judge's ruling that 17 tons of treasure recovered from a sunken Spanish galleon belongs to Spain.

Tampa-based Odyssey Marine Exploration filed an opening brief Monday with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.  At issue is ownership of an estimated $500 million in silver coins and other artifacts salvaged from the shipwreck three years ago.  Last year a federal judge in Tampa ruled that Spain is the rightful owner of the treasure from the navy frigate Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes y las Animas.

But Odyssey argues it is entitled to most of the loot because historical records show the vessel was on a commercial mission when it sank under fire in 1804.


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