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Last Updated: Friday, 2 December 2005, 11:43 GMT
Divers in 'treasure' jail threat
Malcolm Cubin
Father-of-four Malcolm Cubin from Truro is fighting the charges
A team of Cornish divers could be facing extradition accused of plundering shipwrecks off the Spanish coast.

It was originally claimed that the team was illegally diving for gold and diamonds on a wreck off Galicia on the north west coast of Spain.

Now they face charges of theft and damaging Spanish heritage and up to six years in jail.

Peter Devlin, Malcolm Cubin, and Steve Russ deny the charges.

We are professionals, not treasure hunters
Malcolm Cubin

The Spanish authorities arrested the three commercial divers after they dived on the wrecked Dutch ship Friesland in 2002.

Mr Devlin, from Falmouth, says his company, Force 9 Salvage, had a contract with the Spanish government.

The Friesland was carrying 220 tonnes of tin ingots worth about 650,000.

Arrest warrant

But after recovering just one tin ingot the divers were arrested and questioned over allegations of illegally diving for gold and diamonds on a nearby wreck.

In November the divers learned they had been charged and now fear the Spanish authorities could apply for an EU arrest warrant which would allow for their extradition.

The Spanish prosecutor is demanding three years on each count.

Truro father-of-four Mr Cubin, now back in the UK, told BBC News: "They have no case whatsoever, it's insane.

"Our permits were even checked by the Guardia Civil before we went diving.

"We are commercial divers. We are professionals, not treasure hunters."

'Squabble'

Falmouth MP Julia Goldsworthy is pressing the Foreign Office to resolve the issue.

Stephen Jakobi, director of Fair Trials Abroad, said they hoped to be able to help the divers and he said: "This is really a squabble amongst the Spaniards by the looks of things.

"Government permits and okays have been given, and the national government is getting a share of the finds by agreement.

"It looks to me as though it is a local prosecutor having a go. The relationship between national and state prosecutions is not good, and these divers are being used as pawns."




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