Vrouw Maria leaves Amsterdam on route to St. Petersburg, loaded with
Vrouw Maria is
grounded southwest of Turku, at the time a part of the Swedish
territorial coastline, (later to be Finnish territory). The
cargo is of European Cultural Heritage, bought by Catharine
the Great of Russia, and couldn't be
1772 The search for
Vrouw Maria ends and she is over time forgotten.
Vrouw Maria documents are found in the archives by Dr Christian
Ahlström and the search resumes.
1999 The mystery of Vrouw Maria is solved through a discovery made by Rauno
Koivusaari and his team.
A number of claims was presented in the Turku Maritime Court by Rauno
Koivusaari & Co (further RK & Co). Among those were
the First Salvors Right and Title to the Shipwreck itself
(excluding the Cargo belonged to the Finnish state on the
basis of a clear statutory provision of the Antiquities Act).
The Court had to address the question
of applicable law before considering the merits of the claims.
The state alleged that the Antiquities Act as a special law
(which did not recognize any Right of Salvage) superseded the
Maritime Code (which contained provisions on
September 19th The Turku
Maritime Court, chaired by one judge, passed an interlocutory
judgment stating that both laws were applicable. The
conclusion made by the Court was that the provisions on salvage of
the Maritime Code were applicable.
After the interlocutory judgment the
state requested that the matter should be decided by three
judges instead of one. The spectacular thing was that it
indicates that the state felt uncomfortable with leaving the
matter to be decided by one judge (who had already concluded
that the Maritime Code was applicable). This request was however
in line with the provisions of the Procedural
The Finnish Antiquities
Act was amended and a new
provisionwas introduced. The amended law stated if it was obvious that a ship owner had abandoned his
ship and it had sunk for at least 100 years ago, The Title to
the Shipwreck belonged to the state without redemption. This
amendment came into force with retroactive effect,
and was introduced to improve the state´s position in the
pending proceedings with regard to Title to the Wreck.
June 16th The Turku Maritime
Court rendered its judgment, now with three judges, passed by
a majority vote (2 new judges – 1 original judge). All claims
of RK & Co were rejected. The provisions of the
Antiquities Act prevented RK & Co from the Title to the
RK & Co were ordered to pay the legal costs of
& Co appealed the judgment to the Turku Court of Appeal.
To prevent interest from running on the legal costs until the
Appeal was decided on, RK & Co paid the costs for the
The Court of Appeal reversed the Maritime Court´s decision to order RK & Co to
pay the legal costs of the state. The state later was sentenced to repay. The Court of Appeal re-acknowledged RK & Co´s
First Salvors Right, but simultaneously stated that the state
was entitled to prohibit any salvage operation by RK & Co.
This had also been done previously by the state/Maritime
The Supreme Court
rendered a judgment rejecting the application for Leave to
appeal, but never set out any reasons why.
2006 RK & Co
appeals to the European Court of Human Rights.
Exchanges of written pleadings/observations have taken part in the European Court of Human Rights.
A standpoint from the Court of Human Rights will possibly be given within a year.