Argentine navy chief replaced amid Libertad row
- 16 October 2012
- From the section Africa
The head of Argentina's navy has been replaced following the seizure in West Africa of a naval training ship and its 300 crew amid a debt dispute.
The Argentine government is holding an inquiry into who was responsible for allowing the Libertad to stop in Ghana two weeks ago.
Creditors say they will not release the ship until Argentina repays money owed to them from a default in 2001.
An Argentine delegation is in Ghana trying to resolve the stalemate.
Navy chief Carlos Alberto Paz has been replaced and two other senior naval officials suspended, Argentina's defence ministry said on Monday.
A statement said the navy's former organisational chief, Alfredo Mario Blanco, had changed the ship's itinerary and was now being investigated. It said Admiral Luis Gonzalez, the navy's secretary general, had also been suspended and was under investigation.
President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner's government has demanded the ship's release, saying it cannot legally be held by creditors because of its military nature.
The Libertad - a three-masted tall ship - was detained in the Ghanaian port of Tema on 2 October under a court order obtained by NML Capital.
The firm says Argentina owes it more than $300m (£186m) and it will only release the ship if the country pays it at least $20m.
NML Capital is a subsidiary of US hedge fund Elliot Capital Management, one of Argentina's former creditors.
Argentina defaulted on more than $100bn (£62bn) of debt in 2001 and 2002, the biggest default in history.
Most of these loans were restructured in 2005 and 2010, giving creditors about 30% of their money back.
However, some creditors including Elliot chose to hold out, pursuing the Argentine government through the courts to recover the full amount.