File No. 311.654At8/1
The Counselor of the Italian Embassy ( Brambilla ) to the Secretary of State
[Received September 13.]
My Dear Mr. Secretary of State: The Ambassador has directed me to inform you that although the Italian Consul at Philadelphia [Page 676] had on August 28, ultimo, caused to be sent to the United States District Court at Richmond, Va., a certificate stating that the Italian S. S. Attualità had been requisitioned by the Royal Government, and subsequently notified the above court, by a letter dated August 29, that, as a consequence of its requisition, the said ship could not be subjected to attachment, the Attualità was attached upon arriving at Norfolk, Va., on the 9th instant, following a libel filed against her with the United States District Judge at that port by the owner of the Greek S. S. Mina.
The Ambassador wishes me to point out to your excellency that, although the United States Government have never disputed the right of a requisitioned ship to be exempt from attachment and although judges of American courts have not only repeatedly confirmed it in their judgments, but expressed the opinion that, as in the case of the Greek S. S. Athanasios—
It may also be noted that, under existing treaties and what has hitherto been considered accepted international usage, it would be the duty certainly of the executive, and probably of the judicial, branch of the United States Government to assist the Consul General of Greece in carrying out the orders of his king in respect of the Athanasios, inasmuch as such orders in no wise interfere with the peace, order, or dignity, of the United States, however destructive they may be to a private contract between subjects of Greece and Great Britain. (Judge Hough of the District Court—New York, Nov. 15, 1915.)
and in the case of the Italian S. S. Luigi—
It is far more important for the courts of the United States to recognize the international rule of comity that an independent sovereign can not be personally sued, because such a suit would be inconsistent with the independence and equality among the nations of the state which he represents, than it is to take cognizance of private rights, if, by so doing, that rule is violated. If, therefore, by means of the attachment against the Luigi now under requisition as a public vessel of the Italian Government, the authority of the court is indirectly exercised or attempted to be exercised upon the Italian Government, so as to be inconsistent with the independence and equality of that government, the writ of attachment must be quashed. (Judge Thompson of the District Court—Pennsylvania, February 22, 1916.)
the case of the Attualità and some previous cases show that Italian requisitioned ships are, in certain instances, subjected to attachment by American judicial authorities.
Whilst instructing me to beg your excellency to kindly take up the matter with the Department of Justice in view of obtaining the prompt release of the Attualità, Count Cellere has, therefore, requested me at the same time to add that he would greatly appreciate it if the Department of State would suggest some procedure by which it may be possible to protect Italian requisitioned ships in the enjoyment [Page 677] of their rights and avoid the considerable delays and losses to which the Royal Government has been exposed through the attachment in American ports of ships requisitioned by them.
Whilst awaiting the favour of a reply which I may communicate to the Ambassador, I beg to remain [etc.]