File No. 14040/31.

Chargé Wilson to the Secretary of State.

No. 96.]

Sir: Referring to the legation’s telegram dated February 25, 1909, I have the honor to report that on February 13 the supreme court granted the unconditional extradition of Vito Damiano, and that on February 25 the foreign office notified the legation that the Argentine Government was ready to surrender the prisoner to the United States authorities. I therefore wrote to the foreign office requesting that he should be delivered to Mr. Rocco Cavone, the agent authorized by the President, on board the steamship Verdi (the first direct boat for New York) sailing from Buenos Aires on March 10.

As previously reported (see legation’s dispatches Nos. 30 and 38, dated October 7 and October 28, 1908, respectively), the judge of the federal and correctional court granted the extradition of Damiano on condition that in case Damiano should be judged guilty of murder by the American courts, the punishment immediately inferior to the death penalty should be inflicted upon him in accordance with the Argentine Code, which provides that “when the crime on which the demand for extradition is founded has a lesser penalty in the (Argentine) Republic, the extradition of the accused is only agreed to under the condition that the courts of the claiming power will apply to him the lesser penalty,” which would mean that 25 [Page 20] years’ imprisonment would be the maximum punishment which could be imposed upon Damiano by the American courts.

The legation immediately notified the foreign office that it could not accept extradition on these terms as this decision was not authorized by the extradition treaty between the two countries nor by Argentine law.

The legation’s note was passed to the attorney general, who decided favorably, and who directed the fiscal to request the criminal judge to grant the extradition without conditions.

This the judge refused to do, stating the condition formed a part of the sentence.

The case was then appealed to the federal chamber, which stated that it agreed with the attorney general and the fiscal and directed that extradition should be granted unconditionally.

The next appeal was to the supreme court, which, as already stated, handed down a decision favorable to the United States, granting the unconditional extradition of Damiano.

In this connection I have the honor respectfully to renew my suggestion that as the granting of extradition here is a long process, in future cases the formal papers should be sent by mail within the two months prescribed by treaty, and that the agent should be sent out only after extradition has been granted. That such proceedings would result in a saving of time and expense is shown not only in the present instance, but also in the previous recent cases of Moses Ferris and Ross W. Douglass. (See dispatch No. 782 of August 13, 1908.)1

This is the practice of other countries, as the Spanish, Italian, and French legations, which have numerous cases of extradition, inform me that it usually takes from six months to a year after the formal request is made before the extradition is finally granted.

I have, etc.,

Charles S. Wilson.
  1. Not printed.