Mr. Hirsch to Mr. Blaine.

No. 82.]

Sir: The case of the notorious Moussa Bey has been the subject of considerable correspondence with the Department on the part of my predecessors, General Wallace and the late Mr. Cox, both of whom made every possible effort to bring him to trial for his murderous attack on two American missionaries, Dr. Raynolds and Mr. Knapp, in Asia Minor during the year 1883, the details of which are well known to the Department. Both of them were severely beaten, one of them receiving numerous sword cuts, and then both were tied and left to starve. Fortunately, Dr. Raynolds managed, after much suffering, to release himself and then assisted in freeing Mr. Knapp, both thus making their escape and saving their lives.

For this outrage, which can not be too severely denounced, Moussa Bey has never been punished. At an examination held in Bitlis Mr. Knapp identified Moussa without hesitation, pointing him out from among 6 Kurds who were brought before him similarly attired; yet all efforts to bring him to trial and punishment have thus far proved futile.

Under date of October 7, 1889, Mr. King, chargé d’affaires ad interim, addressed an energetic note to the Porte, again calling on the Ottoman authorities to bring the culprit to trial; to which reply was made December 10 last, in which the minister of justice is quoted as saying:

No suit can any longer he brought against Moussa Bey on account of these charges.

The reply of Mr. King to this note of the Porte (December 18 last) not having as yet elicited any answer, I determined to call on His Highness the Grand Vizier in person, in order to make to him such observations as in my judgment the nature of the case required.

Yesterday I went to the Sublime Porte, and was accorded the desired interview with the Grand Vizier, and proceeded to recount to him all the circumstances of the case, and showed him conclusively that the [Page 741] Turkish Government, in the various notes from the Sublime Porte to this legation, is substantially pledged to bring Moussa to trial, notwithstanding the above quotation of the minister of justice, who predicates the opinion on the assumed fact of Moussa having been exonerated at an examination held at the time and in the district where the crime was committed. I told His Highness that the proceedings had at that time were then protested against by this legation for gross irregularities, and have many times since been the subject of correspondence between this legation and the Sublime Porte, parts of which I took this opportunity of quoting to him, as it clearly makes the acknowledgment on the part of the Ottoman authorities that the grave irregularities at the preliminary examination complained of existed, and that there should be a “new and conscientious examination of the case.”

The quotations made by me were as follows: January 12, 1885, His Excellency Assim Pasha to General Wallace writes:

The inquest made by the ministry of justice has revealed certain irregularities committed by the examining magistrate and the deputy imperial prosecutor, and that these two magistrates have been put under judgment.

On April 6, 1885, His Excellency Assim Pasha says:

It is lawful for the parties interested to bring suit against the magistrates for prejudice to their cases by reason of irregularities in the proceedings.

On December 12, 1885, His Excellency Said Pasha, minister of foreign affairs, stated to Mr. Cox, “he had insisted on a new and conscientious examination of the affairs.”

How, in the face of these admissions and declarations on the part of the Sublime Porte, the answer can now be made that “no suit can any longer be brought on these charges” is more than I can apprehend, and I so stated in courteous but unmistakable language to the Grand Vizier.

During the conversation we touched upon the late trial of Moussa Bey on charges of arson and murder brought against him by Americans, and on which he was acquitted by the court. This gave me the opportunity of saying to His Highness that the result of that trial and the verdict in favor of Moussa Bey had been the subject of very severe criticism in both Europe and the United States, and that I hoped the result of my present endeavor to bring Moussa to an honest trial for his misdeeds against our citizens would not give the opportunity for like unfavorable criticism either by our people or our Government.

I stated in the strongest possible terms that it should and would be my aim during my mission here, not only to maintain the friendly relations existing between the two Governments, but, if possible, to strengthen them; but that I should have to insist on justice being done in this case by trial and punishment of this man, who is a terror to all law-abiding people in his country who have either gained his enmity personally or whose possessions he covets, and who, as long as he remains unpunished for his numerous misdeeds in the past, will consider himself privileged to continue in his career of robbery and murder; and that if, after all our honest endeavors to bring this outlaw to justice, we failed in having him tried and punished, I could not see any good reason why we should not ask for indemnity for the outrages committed.

The Grand Vizier seemed impressed with the justice of my demand and stated frankly that he wanted to see justice done, and that he would call the immediate attention of the minister of justice to the matter; and, furthermore, asked me to give him full memorandums of the above quotations (which will go to him to-day in the original as used by the Sublime Porte, it being stronger even than the English translation).

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I have every confidence in the honesty and uprightness of the Grand Vizier and believe he will do all that lies in his power to bring the culprit to punishment; but whether, in view of the influences which Moussa has been able to bring to bear in his behalf in the past, even the Grand Vizier can succeed in his endeavor to have him punished, I am not willing to predict.

I have, etc.,

Solomon Hirsch.