General News of Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Source: myjoyonline

Argentina’s suit against Ghana won’t fly – Lawyer, IMANI suggest

The government of Ghana has been advised to marshal all its legal brains to call off the bluff of Argentina who has threatened to sue the country at the International Tribunal in Hamburg if Ghana fails to release, a seized Argentine warship.

The warship, Libertad, was impounded on the orders of a Ghanaian court on October 2 after it docked at the Tema Port based on a claim by a U.S based private investment fund, NML Capital Limited that Argentina owed it $370 million U.S.

But Argentine government has argued that the warship is immune from seizure and has ordered Ghana to release the ship.

“The government of Ghana has until 13 November,2012 to lift its embargo and acknowledge the Law of the Sea Treaty,” Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman told reporters in the capital of Buenos Aires on Monday.

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez also insisted that the embargo of the ship is illegitimate, saying Argentina will not negotiate with what she calls “vulture funds.”

But a Senior Law Lecturer with GIMPA, Ernest Kofi Abotsi says the case is purely a private matter, which the state should not have been roped into it.

He argued that the Argentine government would have no case if the Ghanaian court respected the private international law and acted independent of the executive arm of government.

Mr Abotsi is therefore asking the government of Ghana to go all out to defend its case in court.

“The government of Ghana must be strongly represented by all the people who have the competence and capability, especially in government to do put our case across.”

He was certain Ghana did not violate the so-called immunity of the Argentine warship.

Vice President of IMANI-Ghana, Kofi Bentil concurred with Mr Abotsi’s submissions.

“We should not be bothered, but we should respect all the process and we should be represented in that court and vigorously argue our case.”

He blamed Argentina for bringing the seemingly embarrassment onto itself by going to borrow from the NML Capital Limited.

Mr Bentil noted that the company has been to different courts and all have ruled that Argentina owes the money and must pay but “Argentina has consistently refused to pay this money”.

The company, he said, has also gotten orders from various courts to attach Argentina’s assets around the world.

According Mr Kofi Bentil, Argentina waived its immunity the moment it entered into the contract with a private company, insisting that the seizure was “properly done”, and advised Argentina to redeem its image by paying its debts.