Mr. Hirsch to Mr. Blaine.

No. 123.]

Sir: I inclose a copy of my note to the Porte about Moussa Bey, referred to at the close of my No. 113 of 18th ultimo. In this note I have endeavored to answer the points advanced by the minister of justice, on [Page 762] whose report the minister of foreign affairs based his note. I did not dwell at any length on the “ordonnance de non lieu,” because I was unable to find the date of it, which I am yet trying to obtain.

I have, etc.,

Solomon Hirsch.
[Inclosure in No. 123.]

Mr. Hirsch to Said Pasha.

No. 33.]

Mr. Minister: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of Your Excellency’s note of the 7th ultimo, in reply to the note of this legation, No. 17, of December 18, 1889, in the matter of Moussa Bey, whose punishment for outrages against American citizens has at various times during the last 7 years been demanded by the United States Government.

The reply of Your Excellency is based upon the report of the minister of justice, to whom the note of this legation had been referred, and who, after “once more” examining the documents on the subject, has reported his conclusions to Your Excellency, and as the result of such report I am now informed that an “ordonnance de non lieu” has been entered in the case by the examining magistrate and the chamber of accusation.

It is with no small degree of surprise that this legation for the first time now receives the information of the entry of the “ordonnance de non lieu.”

The action, as reported by the minister of justice, seems to be based on the following:

I. On the 18th and 19th of May, 1883, Messrs. Knapp and Raynolds were confronted with four Kurds who had been arrested in consequence of the complaint made, and failed to indentify these four men as their assailants.

It would seem from this that His Excellency the minister of justice treated this confrontation in a serious manner, but the slightest examination would have shown the facts to be that the four Kurds in question were furnished for the occasion by Mirza Bey, the father of Moussa Bey; that they were not the assailants, and, of course, could not be identified by Knapp and Raynolds.

II. In October, 1883, Mr. Knapp was confronted with Moussa at Bitlis and is reported to have stated that he resembled the Kurd who had wounded Dr. Raynolds with his sword.

This statement of the case is the same as made by the local officers in 1883, and was immediately declared false by the United States legation.

The Sublime Porte promised an investigation, and afterwards informed the legation that the officials in question had been found guilty of grave irregularities in the case.

His Excellency Assim Pasha to Mr. Wallace, January 12, 1885:

“I have the honor to inform Your Excellency that the inquest made by the ministry of justice having revealed certain irregularities committed by the examining magistrate and the deputy imperial prosecutor, these two magistrates have been put under judgment.”

Nevertheless, the falsified statement is still treated as correct by the minister of justice.

When Mr. Knapp was summoned by the authorities of Bitlis to identify his assailant he was confronted with a number of men and unhesitatingly pointed out one as the assailant of Dr. Raynolds; he did not even know the name of the man he had identified until he was afterwards told who the man was. It was Moussa Bey, who wore for that occasion a dress of a different style from his ordinary village dress.

An impartial examination would have brought out very clearly the positive nature of Mr. Knapp’s testimony and the deliberate purpose of the local officials to suppress it.

III. It is claimed that Mr. Knapp was with Moussa at Polo Kéhio’s for 2 hours on May 3, 1883, and should have recognized him at once at the time of the assault on the following day; and inasmuch as he did not recognize him then as it appears from his first evidence his declaration several months subsequent loses all its value.

This is an attempt to undermine the unimpeachable testimony of Mr. Knapp, and is now for the first time offered to this legation. The facts are that Moussa Bey was at the house in which Messrs. Knapp and Raynolds were staying that evening; that he was not with Mr. Knapp, but that he stood in a group of Kurds in a dark room; that the Americans had no communication with him.

[Page 763]

IV. And in further attempt to impeach the testimony of Mr. Knapp, the minister of justice says:

“It has been proven by the sworn depositions of several persons that Moussa Bey had not left his house on the day of the assault.”

In systems of judicial investigations with which we are acquainted such statements of alibi are without value, unless proven at a regular trial when the character of the testimony has been sharply cross-examined in open court. Since no such trial or testing of evidence has been held, this statement possesses not the slightest weight.

It appears that the Ottoman Government has accepted without sufficient serious investigation the statement of local officials, who, for reasons best known to themselves, have rather screened than sought the culprits whose irregular proceedings have been admitted by the Sublime Porte and whose erroneous statements have been the subjects of repeated protests from this legation.

We are now told by the minister of justice that the way is open for a suit to be brought against the judges, and, furthermore, that the interested parties are always free to sue Moussa Bey once more before the competent tribunal in case they are furnished with new evidence against him.

The minister of justice would have it appear by the above as if Messrs, Knapp and Raynolds had once before brought a suit against Moussa Bey which they lost. This, however, is not the fact. They never brought any suit. The Turkish Government relieved them of the necessity of opening a suit; it assured them that it would bring the criminals to justice, an assurance volunteered by the governor of Bitlis on the day when Messrs. Knapp and Raynolds were brought, bruised and wounded, into that city, and which has since then been repeated by the Sublime Porte at various times. The United States Government has nothing to do with any private suit, but only with the unfulfilled promise of the Turkish Government that Moussa Bey would be brought to punishment. We now ask that those promises be fulfilled.

I beg here, in the name of my Government, to renew the protest which I made verbally to Your Excellency against the conclusions arrived at in your note, and most earnestly demand that for the present Moussa Bey be kept hereof the capital and within reach of the authorities, just as others are kept who are accused of like heinous offenses against the law, and that such punishment be inflicted on him as is commensurate with the gravity of the crime committed by him on my countrymen.

Accept, etc.,

Solomon Hirsch.