Argentina prepared on Sunday to evacuate more than 300 crew members from a ship stranded in the West African nation of Ghana since a court ordered its seizure nearly three weeks ago over a debt dispute.
The three-masted tall ship, the ARA Libertad, has been stuck in the Tema port near the capital Accra since an October 2 order linked to claims from a Cayman Islands investment fund that says Buenos Aires owes it more than $370 million (283 million euros).
Buenos Aires ordered on Saturday that the frigate be evacuated immediately, but it was not clear on Sunday when the sailors would depart.
Ghana's deputy foreign minister Chris Kpodo told AFP he was not aware of the evacuation plan, but added that the court order applied only to the ship and not the crew.
Argentina has threatened to take the case to the United Nations, but Kpodo said Ghana maintained its position that the ship seizure was a court matter and due process must be followed.
The seizure over court claims by NML Capital Limited has caused controversy in the South American country, leading to two top-level resignations as well as a mission to Ghana led by Argentina's deputy foreign and defence ministers.
Buenos Aires said Saturday it would leave only the Libertad's captain and a skeleton crew behind with the ship.
The Argentine government also alleged that a Ghanaian judge has prohibited fuel from being supplied to the ship, which would keep it from generating power.
A Ghana court however had earlier asked the two sides to reach an agreement on fuel supplies and other logistical issues. Kpodo said he was not aware of the ship being prevented from refuelling.
The crew of 326 are mostly Argentine but also include eight sailors from Uruguay, 15 from Chile and others from Brazil, Paraguay, Ecuador, South Africa and Venezuela.
They have been passing the time with visits to a nearby shopping mall and a beach resort, among other activities.
One of their drivers, who declined to be named, said on Sunday that a sailor had been taken to hospital for treatment after injuring his arm while playing football the previous day.
The crew remained at the Ghana port Sunday, and sailors declined to comment in detail when approached by an AFP journalist.
"I don't know," one of the sailors said when asked when they would leave.
The Libertad had gone to Ghana for a training mission. Kpodo told AFP on Sunday that meetings were held with the Argentine delegation on Thursday and Friday, but Accra maintained its position that the case is a court matter.
"Once the matter is in the court, we will allow the courts to proceed and go through the due process," Kpodo said. "The government of Ghana will only assist as much as it can to accelerate the resolution through the court."
He said he had not been informed of the evacuation order, but added that it was only the ship being held.
"Those who are on board the ship are not being held," he said. "So if it is decided to evacuate them, that would be normal."
NML Capital Limited -- which some call a "vulture fund" -- bought Argentine bonds at a discount when the country's economy was in freefall in 2000. Buenos Aires later defaulted.
The fund's lawyer has previously said the Libertad could be released "tomorrow" if Argentina posts a bond of $20 million.
Argentina has argued that the ship was protected by diplomatic immunity, but a court ruled that Buenos Aires had waived its immunity in an agreement linked to the debt.
The country has rescheduled and refinanced much of its debt, but bonds held by speculative funds are among its unsettled business.
The head of Argentina's military intelligence, Lourdes Puente Olivera, resigned Thursday over the incident.
Her departure followed that of the commander of the Argentine navy, Carlos Alberto Paz. The government has also punished two high-ranking naval officers over the decision to have the ARA Libertad and its crew stop over at the port of Tema.