* Military training vessel held over debt dispute
* Creditors claim they owed $300 million
(Adds details, quotes)
By Kwasi Kpodo
ACCRA, Oct 24 Nearly 300 crew members of an
Argentine training vessel seized in Ghana flew home on Wednesday
after spending weeks in dockside limbo where their ship was
detained on behalf of creditors seeking money lost on defaulted
The ARA Libertad, a tall sailing ship with a crew of more
than 330, was detained in Ghana's eastern port of Tema on Oct. 2
on a court order obtained by NML Capital Ltd, which claims
Argentina owes it $300 million from defaulted bonds.
The cadets boarded a chartered Air France flight in Ghana's
capital Accra bound for Buenos Aires, taking off after a
four-hour delay, according to a Reuters witness.
A statement posted on the website of Argentina's President
Cristina Fernandez said they will arrive home on Wednesday
evening and would return to training on Nov. 5 following medical
"When they return from their break, the midshipmen will
resume training that will allow them to meet the objectives
necessary to graduate as planned on December 8," the statement
Immigration officials processed 279 sailors for departure on
Wednesday. A skeleton crew required for the essential
maintenance of the ship remained behind.
Argentina's Foreign Minister Hector Timerman launched a
diplomatic offensive in New York on Monday, urging top United
Nations officials to pressure Ghana to release the ship.
The government of Argentina has rejected claims for debt
repayment by NML Capital and other companies pursuing the South
American nation in U.S. courts over its massive 2002 debt
default, calling them "vulture funds."
Argentina's defence ministry initially filed a motion
contesting the detention claiming sovereign immunity for the
military vessel, but a court in Accra upheld the seizure as
A senior Ghanaian official said the government had no
influence over the decision of the court and had encouraged
Argentina to pursue the matter via the proper legal channels.
"The Ghana government is not a party to the dispute and will
not be drawn into it," the official said, asking not to be
"They have appealed as advised and this means they are ready
to participate in the legal process," he said.
President Fernandez ordered the 326 sailors to evacuate the
detained ship at the weekend claiming their human rights were
violated because a judge had prohibited fuel deliveries required
to run plumbing and emergency equipment..
(Reporting by Kwasi Kpodo, Additional reporting by Hugh
Bronstein in Buenos Aires; Writing by Joe Bavier; Editing by