PARIS: A Saudi vessel that had been due to load weapons at a northern French port on Friday set sail without them and headed for Spain, a day after a rights group tried to block the cargo on humanitarian grounds. French rights group ACAT argued in a legal challenge on Thursday that the consignment contravened a UN treaty because the arms might be used against civilians in Yemen. A French judge threw out that legal challenge but the Bahri-Yanbu set course for Santander shortly after minus the weapons, officials said and ship-tracking data showed. The saga is an embarrassment for President Emmanuel Macron, who on Thursday defended arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Riyadh leads the pro-government military coalition in the four-year civil war that has devastated Yemen, killed tens of thousands and left much of the population on the brink of famine. Macron said on Thursday Riyadh, which he called a key ally in the fight against terrorism, had assured him the weapons the ship was to load were not to be used against civilians. An official working for Jean-Paul Lecoq, the opposition Communist member of parliament for port city Le Havre, confirmed the vessel had left without the consignment.