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Colonial Cases

United States v. Mirzam, 1880


United States v. Mirzam

United States Consular Court, Egypt
Source: The Reading Eagle (Pa.), 4 August 1880



Sentence of Stephen Mirzam - Convicted of the Murder of Alexander Dahan, in Egypt. - Committed for Life - Remarkable Record of Insanity in the Family.

WASHINGTON, Aug. 4. - Alexander Dahan Bey, was killed in the streets of Alexandria, Egypt, on the 18th of July, 1879, by Stephen P. Mirzam, a naturalized American citizen and at one time a resident of New York and Boston, where he was engaged in the fruit trade with Smyrna, his native place. The particulars of the crime have been detailed throughout the world and the manner in which he should be tried formed an important feature of the case. It was this that the State Department gave serious consideration to nearly a year ago and which resulted in directing Mr. Maynard, our minister to Turkey, to preside at the trial.

   One of the important questions involved in the trial was whether as an American citizen he was not entitled to trial by jury.  Dahan was a Turkish subject, and under the treaty it was claimed that the trial must proceed as before consular courts in Turkey dominions.  The second important question was whether, if found guilty of murder in the first degree, an American citizen could be deprived of life by the sentence of a mere consular court.

   He was found guilty and sentenced to be executed at Alexandria on the morning of the 1st of October next.  In the meantime he was transferred to the American prison at Smyrna to await there the mercy of the President or to be returned to Alexandria to be hanged.

   Archbishop Simoni has written a lengthy letter to President Hayes, signed by a large number of citizens, detailing a remarkable record of insanity in Mirzam's family. The President then commuted the sentence to imprisonment for life.

Published by Centre for Comparative Law, History and Governance at Macquarie Law School