File No. 711.5211.
The Spanish Minister to the Secretary of State.
Washington, November 29, 1910.
Mr. Secretary: In having the honor to place in your hands a brief statement of certain facts connected with the murder of His Majesty’s subject Juan Bautista Sagasti, late steward of the Spanish steamship Viviana, committed at Pensacola, Fla., in the year 1907, I beg leave to call your excellency’s attention to the course taken in that case by the local authorities of that city, which seem to have acted arbitrarily and in my opinion openly infringed the test of the treaty of friendship and general relations of July 3, 1902, concluded between the United States and Spain.
It appears from the information at hand that Pantaleon Basterrechea, a Spaniard and cook of the Viviana, killed the steward, Juan Bautista Sagasti, both being then on board the Viviana, to whose crew they belonged, the ship being anchored in the said port of Pensacola. The facts referred to took place April 27, 1907.
On their being brought to his knowledge by a report of the captain of the ship, the vice consul of Spain at that place immediately took appropriate action and issued the provisional order, which is literally as follows:
The aggressor, Pantaleon Basterrechea, being locked up in the first officer’s room, was, on the request of the then examining magistrate, Mr. James Sandrum, and for greater safety, delivered to him and taken from the ship by a constable.
But when said consular officer asked to have the said accused returned to be placed aboard and taken to Spain the said magistrate replied that the trial had taken place before 12 American citizens, who had returned a verdict of not guilty on account of the homicide committed by Basterrechea having been declared justifiable, and that Basterrechea had been released.
Inasmuch as our vice consul had delivered the accused to the authorities of the United States for custody and return only, with a view to greater safety at that time and in compliance with the magistrate’s request, it is clear and evident that the failure to return him was, on the part of the authorities of the United States, a manifest misinterpretation of the provision of the above-mentioned treaty.
I have therefore no doubt that your excellency, ever animated by the most devoted sentiments of equity and justice, will enable me to return to my Government, which has instructed me to take this step, a satisfactory answer that will permit to hope that here [Page 852] after the provisions of the treaty of friendship and general relations between Spain and the United States, and, as regards the case under consideration and others of the same character that may arise, article 23 of the said treaty will be strictly observed by the Federal, State, or municipal authorities of the United States.
I avail, etc.,