Mr. Hirsch to Mr. Blaine.

No. 113.]

Sir: I have the honor to inclose herewith a copy (in translation) of a note from the Sublime Porte of 7th instant, in reply to note from this legation of December 18 last, in the matter of Moussa Bey.

For the first time during all the years of the correspondence on this subject, this legation is informed that an “ordonnance de non lieu” has been entered in favor of Moussa Bey by the examining magistrate and chamber of accusation. This, if not set aside, will permit him to go free.

The statements put forward by the minister of justice, which form the basis of the note of the Sublime Porte, are by no means an answer to the demands made by this legation. The communications of this legation on the subject have largely partaken of the nature of protests against the very actions and statements quoted by him.

The Ottoman Government has assured this legation repeatedly that the criminal would be brought to justice, but it would now seem that these assurances are not to be made good. The statements of subordinate local officials, who for reasons best known to themselves have rather screened than sought the culprit, whose irregular proceedings have in one instance at least been admitted by the Sublime Porte, and whose erroneous statements have been the subjects of repeated protests from this legation, appear to have been accepted by the Ottoman Government without sufficient serious investigation.

The identification by Mr. Knapp of Moussa is not admitted by the minister of justice, although it is known, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it was complete. The officials, who at the time distorted Mr. Knapp’s [Page 759] evidence into making him say that Moussa resembled the assailant, were afterwards disciplined by the authorities and “put under judgment,” and the legation was assured the culprit would be brought to justice.

A claim of an alibi is now made in behalf of Moussa for the first time. We certainly can not admit the claim, as no proof of it has ever been made on any public trial.

The details of the attack were notorious throughout the whole region of country where it was made, and never before did we have even an intimation that Moussa claimed not to have “been there.”

It is pointed out in the note that a way is open to Messrs. Knapp and Raynolds to bring a suit against Moussa Bey or against the court officials at Bitlis who conducted the examination in 1883, but it seems to me that the only proposition which the United States Government has anything to do with in this case is our demand that the promise by the Sublime Porte for the punishment of Moussa Bey be redeemed.

We are without information thus far of the date of the “ordonnance de non lieu.” In view of the long correspondence and the many promises made us, the date, when ascertained, will prove to be of the greatest interest as well as importance.

The Grand Vizier, as well as the minister of foreign affairs, have ever been willing and even desirous to have Moussa brought to punishment. I called on them immediately after receiving the above-mentioned note, and in the most positive terms protested against the findings of the department of justice, and at the same time stated that the Government of the United States looked to the Ottoman Government to make good its promises for the punishment of Moussa Bey, notwithstanding the opinion of the minister of justice, and furthermore demanded that until I could communicate with my Government Moussa Bey be kept here at Constantinople by the authorities, and not be permitted to return home.

I am quite convinced, from what transpired during the interview, that only the minister of justice stands between Moussa and deserved punishment; and as long as he is able, as heretofore he has been, to convince the Sultan that Moussa is the injured man, just so long shall we find it very difficult, if not impossible, to have inflicted on him the punishment which he deserves, and which, for the sake of our citizens throughout this Empire, he ought to receive.

I have not as yet had the opportunity of laying before His Majesty the Sultan the justice of our demand (see my dispatch No. 88, February 22 last), but am ready at any moment to respond to an appointment from the palace for an audience.

I have, etc.,

Solomon Hirsch.
[Inclosure in No. 113.—Translation.]

Said Pasha to Mr. Hirsch.

Sir: I have had the honor to receive the note that the legation of the United States kindly addressed to me on the 18th of December last, No. 17, with regard to the affair of Rev. Mr. Knapp and Dr. Raynolds.

The department of justice, to which I communicated this document, informs me, in reply, that it has once more examined the documents on this subject and from that examination the following appears:

The Rev. Mr. Knapp and Dr. Raynolds, who had spent the night of the 3d of May, 1299 (1883), at Polo Kéhias, in a village near Bitlis, went on the 11th of the same [Page 760] month and complained of having been attacked on the 4th in the neighborhood of Onzouf-Bourni by three Kurds, whom they declared not to know.

On the 18th and 19th of May they were confronted with four Kurds, arrested in consequence of this complaint, but Dr. Raynolds did not recognize them and Rev. Mr. Knapp said that he had only suspicions on one of them, the so-called Hatcho. The inquest made having, however, proved that these four individuals were, on the day of the attack, occupied in cutting wood at Mount Hatchreek, they had to be released.

Later on the legation of the United States, it is true, accused Moussa Bey and his companions, Cherifoglon Hassan and Osman, of being the authors of this aggressive act, but it was ascertained that there were no persons in the village by the names of Cherifoglon Hassan and Osman.

On the 10th of October of the same year the Rev. Mr. Knapp, having seen Moussa Bey with some other persons, said that he resembled the Kurd who had wounded Dr. Raynolds with a sword; and the legation of the United States of America, taking its position on this simple assertion, declares that Moussa Bey is the author of the aggression, and that his identity has been established in an evident manner.

It is, however, to be observed that the Rev. Mr. Knapp, who was on the 3d of May, 1883, for 2 hours with Moussa Bey at Polo Kéhias, should have recognized him at once at the time of the assault on the day after; not having recognized him then, as appears from his first evidence, his declaration of several months subsequent loses all its value.

Notwithstanding that, the judiciary authorities did not fail to institute an inquest on this subject, and it has been proved by the sworn depositions of several persons that Moussa Bey had not left his house on the day of the assault.

In short, the culpability of Moussa Bey in this affair having not been legally established, a verdict of nol. pros. was issued in his favor by the examining magistrate and by the chamber of accusations. The interested parties having been duly informed, they are at liberty to sue the judges, and, although a long delay has since passed, they can still to-day resort to that means, as in the same way they are always free to sue Moussa once more before the competent tribunal in case they are furnished with new evidence against him.

I am persuaded that Your Excellency, when you have cognizance of what precedes, will kindly agree that the ministry of justice can not inflict in an administrative way any punishment whatever on a person the culpability of whom could not be legally established.

Please accept, etc.,