811.203/221: Telegram

The Minister in Egypt ( Kirk ) to the Secretary of State

238. My 81, January 15, noon, regarding military jurisdiction in Egypt. The successful conclusion of an agreement is being held up on the one hand because of the insistence of the Egyptian authorities that the agreement contain provisions for the determination and payment of damages to victims of crimes and misdemeanors of American troops (also for injuries caused involuntarily) and on the other hand because of the apparent inability of our military authorities to agree to the Egyptian formula. Substantially that formula would provide for a Mixed Claims Commission or Committee composed of an American and an Egyptian member and in cases of disagreement of a third and neutral member; for the application by the Committee of appropriate Egyptian laws with respect to damages as well as applicable American law and equity whichever is more advantageous to the victims for the immediate payment of awards up to $1,000; and for the immediate partial payment of $1,000 on awards over that amount, the balance to be submitted to Congress as a claim.

While our military legal advisers here are willing to agree to the provision concerning the applicable laws, they are of the opinion that it is legally impossible to agree to a mixed committee or to partial payments on claims over $1,000. Their views are based on the provisions of the act approved January 2, 194214 United States Code Title 31, [§] 224 d.

As it seems that our negotiations may be held up indefinitely on these questions, would the Department please confer with the War Department and advise the Legation and the Military Headquarters in Cairo how far we can go in meeting the desires the Egyptian authorities (1) for a Mixed Claims Commission, and (2) for immediate partial payment of $1,000 on awards over that amount, the balance to be submitted to Congress with the support of the War Department. In considering the foregoing it should be borne in mind that the Egyptian authorities are willing to concede to our Military Courts complete criminal jurisdiction over uniformed military personnel and that we should take special steps to meet their wishes in regard to the foregoing points.

[Page 75]

An urgent reply is requested as a second case in which an American soldier killed an Egyptian occurred in Cairo on January 31.

This telegram has been shown to the Commanding General here and has his approval.

  1. An act to provide for the prompt settlement of claims for damages occasioned by Army, Navy, and Marine Corps Forces in foreign countries, 55 Stat. 880.