Peru makes long-shot bid for Spanish treasure

February 23, 2012 - 3:25 PM

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — The government of Peru is making a last-minute, long-shot bid at ownership of 17 tons of Spanish silver recovered from a warship that sank nearly 200 years ago.

Spain took control of the treasure earlier this week after prevailing in a legal battle with the Florida-based deep-sea explorers who raised it from the Atlantic Ocean five years ago. The treasure is scheduled to fly to Spain as early as Friday.

The Peruvian government asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block the shipment until it could make further arguments to support its ownership.

The coins were minted in Peru. Descendants of merchants who owned the money aboard the Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes have in the past made unsuccessful claims to it.