Mr. Denby to Mr. Olney.
Peking , October 13, 1896 . (Received Nov. 30.)
Sir: I have the honor to make the following report touching the case of one Chiang Hsu-chu:
This man was one of the persons who was charged with exhuming a dead body and reburying it in the American missionary premises at Kiangyin. This act caused the riot at that place last spring.
The missionaries claim that Chiang is innocent, and that the confession made by him of his guilt was wrested by torture, and individual missionaries and the Presbyterian convention assembled at Shanghai have asked this legation to intercede in the man’s favor.
His guilt or innocence has no particular bearing on the matter now presented to your consideration, but it is proper to state that the Chinese magistrate who tried Chiang denies utterly that he was tortured, and reports officially that his confession was voluntary.
Chiang was tried at Kiangyin and found guilty and sentenced to be strangled to death. The 4th instant I received from the consul-general the following telegram:
Chiang (written Tsiang) now being held before criminal judge Soochow, in my district. Should I ask to be present?
I answered as follows the 4th instant:
If Tsiang’s trial concerns outrage on American, attend it.
Subsequent telegrams from the consul-general asked that orders be issued delaying the trial until he could arrive, and directing the provincial judge to allow him to be present.
I addressed the Yamên in writing on the subject, and on the 9th instant had a personal interview with them of nearly three hours’ duration, in which the whole matter was discussed.[Page 81]
I claimed that under the third clause of section 3 of the Chefoo convention I had the right to be represented at the trial of Chiang. This clause reads as follows:
It is agreed that whenever a crime is committed affecting the person or property of a British subject, whether in the interior or at the open ports, the British minister shall be free to send officers to the spot to be present at the investigation.
The Yamên claimed that Chiang’s case went before the provincial judge for revision simply; that from him it would go to the board of punishments and thence to the Throne; that the “investigation” was had at Kiangyin; that Chiang was tried for the commission of a crime against Chinese law, and the Americans had no interest in the proposed revision; and they refused to allow the consul-general to be present.
I inclose a translation of a communication presenting the views of the Yamên more in detail. * * *
I have, etc.,