Tuesday, May 21, 2013
The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) has announced that it will deliver its judgment in the M/V LOUISA (St. Vincent and the Grenadines v. Kingdom of Spain) case on Tuesday, May 28. The judgment will be read by the the President of the Tribunal, Judge Shunji Yanai, in the Tribunal's main courtroom in Hamburg.
According to an ITLOS Press Release, the dispute concerns the M/V "Louisa", a vessel flying the flag of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, which was boarded, searched and detained by Spanish authorities on 1 February 2006. According to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the M/V "Louisa" was engaged in conducting surveys of the sea floor with a view to locating oil and gas deposits, on the basis of a permit issued by the Spanish Ministry of the Environment. According to the Spanish authorities, several pieces of underwater archaeological origin, five "assault rifles" and a handgun were found on board during the search of the vessel. On the day the vessel was detained, the Spanish authorities also arrested two crew members and another person who was staying on the vessel and took them into custody; another crew member was later arrested in Portugal. By indictment of the Court of Criminal Investigation No. 4 of Cadiz, criminal proceedings were instituted for alleged violations of Spanish laws on "the protection of the underwater cultural heritage and the possession and handling of weapons of war in Spanish territory".
St. Vincent and the Grenadines has requested that ITLOS declare Spain's actions to be unlawful and order reparations. Spain requests the Tribunal find that the application is inadmissible and the Tribunal has no jurisdiction.