Thursday 11th October, 2012
Accra, Oct. 11, GNA - - An Accra Fast Track Court on Thursday dismissed a motion by Argentina to set aside orders that have restrained one of its naval ships from moving or bunkering until further notice.
The court last week ordered that the Argentine vessel, ARA Libertad, to remain at Tema Harbor until the hearing of a writ, which seeks to enforce in Ghana judgments against Argentina issued by the United States District Court and supported by similar judgments in the United Kingdom.
Mr Justice Richard Agyei Frimpong said Argentina had not demonstrated the basis for which the injunction on the ship should be set aside. He said the order he gave earlier on the movement of the ship, which came to Ghana on a goodwill mission as part of a West African tour, was proper.
The Judge said he had given Argentina the option to provide security to the court pending the determination of the case and Argentina had failed to do this.
Mr Justice Agyei Frimpong said in Argentina, the fiscal agreements it signed with its creditors, waived its own immunity. On October 9, the court listened to arguments from counsel representing the NML Capital Limited, a subsidiary of Elliot Management, a New York-based investment fund engaged in the investment of pension funds, and the Republic of Argentina.
NML Capital Limited on October 2 went to the Commercial Division of the Fast Track High Court in Accra to obtain an interim injunction against the Argentine ship currently in Ghana, with about 200 men on board.
On December 18, 2006, NML Capital was granted a summary judgement by the US District Court for the recovery from Argentina the principal bond of 284,184,632 dollars with respect to 10.25 per cent of Global Bonds due on July 21, 2030, plus interest thereon.
In his submissions last Tuesday, Mr Larry Otoo, who represented the Republic of Argentina, contended that the vessel was a military warship which was used for military purposes.
He told the court that the vessel which was in Ghana at the invitation of the government of Ghana, currently had on board over 200 men with nationals from South Africa, Namibia and Morocco.
Mr Otoo noted that under the laws of Ghana, warships were to enjoy immunity and were not to be subjected to seizure.
He said the order of the court had brought an embarrassment to the country and the Ghana Navy which had lost the benefits of the training for which the ship sailed to Ghana.
He therefore prayed the court to allow the vessel to sail as Argentina was saddled with debt. However, Mr Ace Ankomah, counsel for NML Capital Limited, opposed to the motion saying Argentina had the means and the ability to pay debts its owed.
“Argentina’s international reserves or foreign currency liquidity as at August this year was at 45 billion dollars,” he said.
Mr Ankomah noted that if the vessel was allowed to leave the shores of Ghana, it might not recover its debts adding that was why they asked the defendant to make payment in court as the case was heard.
He said the defendants had not been able to show the court the invitation extended by the government of Ghana and there was no exception for warships in the case of a contractual waiver.
On the men on board the vessel, there were ways by which they could be sent back to their respective countries.
“Although, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea recognises the immunity of warships, that recognition is based on the rules and principles of customary international law, which permits the immunity to be waived, including contracts,” he said.