Seized Argentina navy ship's crew leave Ghana

Argentine ship Libertad in the port of Tema on 23 October 2012
Image caption The Libertad has been held in the Ghanaian port of Tema since the beginning of October

The crew of an Argentine navy ship, which was impounded as part of a debt dispute more than three weeks ago in Ghana, are heading to Argentina.

Almost 300 sailors left on an Air France plane chartered by the Argentine government.

A skeleton crew is staying on board the three-masted Libertad to maintain it.

The tall ship was prevented from leaving Ghana after a local court ruled in favour of a US fund.

The fund, NML Capital, argued it was owed $370m (£231m) by Argentina's government as a result of its debt default a decade ago.

It is seeking $20m (£12.5m) in return for the release of the ship.


An earlier plan for the sailors to fly back on an Argentine plane was scrapped because of fears that the aircraft might itself be impounded as part of the debt dispute.

On Tuesday, Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner condemned the Libertad's seizure and made it clear there would be no negotiations with creditors.

She said Argentina would not bow to "blackmail by vulture funds".

"As long as I am president, they can keep the frigate but nobody is going to keep the liberty, sovereignty and dignity of this country," she said.

NML Capital is a subsidiary of US hedge fund Elliot Capital Management, one of Argentina's former creditors.

In 2001 and 2002, Argentina defaulted on more than $100bn (£62bn) of debt.

Most of these loans were subsequently restructured, giving creditors about 30% of their money back.

However, some creditors including Elliot chose to hold out, pursuing the Argentine government through the courts.

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