The Investigation Minutes of Muharram 24, 1256 H. During the investigation process and the questioning of the suspects, a memorandum from the French Consul in Damascus arrived for the Investigation Committee containing the following:

"Muallim Shehadih Lazbouna was one of the Jews who came to our Consulate when the case of Priest Thomas and his servant became public knowledge. He pledged to pay 50,000 piasters to whoever reveals the killers. I learned that this person is a Government employee. Therefore, I hope you will send him to me for questioning."

The Investigation committee sent Shehadih Lazbouna to the French Consul for questioning. The French Consul sent a copy of the questions and answers which were used during the investigation that took place in his presence to the Investigation Committee. The contents of this copy are as follows:

The Consul said to Shehadih Lazbouna, "You came to this Consulate with some members of your Jewish community -- among them were: Meyer Farhi, Murad and Joseph Farhi, Aaron Islambouli, and known what was revealed regarding the slaying of the Priest and his servants in the house of David Harari and the Farhi's house, with their knowledge. We have learned that you are still committed to pay your share of the pledged 50,000 piasters. Do you have any doubts or suspicions regarding what has happened or what has been revealed?"

Shehadih answered, "The investigation procedure is completed and has attained its legitimate action. I have no doubt about the honesty of the investigation which was conducted in the presence of His Excellency, the Governor General, and His Excellency, the Consul. The pledge is due and I will pay what I have to pay.

The Consul: "What is requested of you [is] that you write down you answers without fear or partiality. Since you have no doubt about what happened, and they are well known facts, why are you keeping your pledge when it has become clear that these crimes were carried out in a wrongful and criminal fashion? Explain to us the nature of this pledge and do not be ashamed." Shehadih replied by reconfirming what he had said earlier. The consul then said to him, "Your truthfulness is clear. Since you are innocent of the accusations of the murder of Father Thomas and his servant, perhaps you have learned what is being said in your community regarding this matter. Tell us about it in details and do not worry -- especially since you were spending the evening at David Harari's house, the night before the arrest of the Harari's sons. Tell us who spent the evening with you at the Harari's house, and what they talked about?"

Shehadih Lazbouna replied, "We went to His Excellency's, the Governor of Damascus, when this matter developed, and pleaded for his help. He replied that they would not interfere in this case. We returned to the Harari's house, then went back to visit His Excellency at night. Returning from there to spend the evening in David Harari's house. Among those present were Isaac Picciotto, Jacob Abou Al-Afieh, and the Harari Brothers. Our party lasted until about four o'clock at night. At that time Isaac Picciotto was called to Murad's house. Those of us attending the party said to Isaac Picciotto, 'Please inform us to dispel our worries, if anything developed regarding the case.' He later sent his servant to inform us that there was nothing to worry about. This is what I remember as to what took place the night before the arrest of the Harari's sons."


{NOTE: Sometime earlier, these men went to the French Consul, a few days after the slaying of Father Thomas, and asked his personal help and intervention on their behalf with the Governor General, Sharif Pasha. They wanted him to give them additional time to find the murderer. Then they requested from him, in order to dispel the suspicions hovering over them, that he announce, in writing, and through an official town caller, the allocation of fifty thousand piasters (50,000) of a prize money to be given to whoever discovers the Priest's body and his murderer. He accepted their wishes and ordered the mounting of notices in Jewish, Christian, and Muslim neighborhoods, and public calls throughout the City of Damascus.}

The Consul said, "It is not required that you answer what is not true of what you heard of the discussions during that evening gathering, or who was present there. There is no accusation against you for you to deny or refute. Why did you give me the five hundred (500) piasters in the wrapped bundle? What was your intent from this bribe?"

Shehadih answered, "My only reason for presenting this sum was to avoid falling into this problem."


The Consul said, "Did anybody tell you that, or did you think of that yourself? What was your reason for fearing to fall into this problem?"


Shehadih answered, "Nobody asked me to do it. I have the money, and I am a man of my word. However, if I am afraid to answer your questions on this matter. I am also afraid of so many questions."


The Consul replied, "By a formal memorandum to His Excellency, the Governor General, I requested you to come in order to question you regarding this case, because your name appeared in the Investigation Minutes in regard to your presence in the party at the Harari's house. For that reason I asked you about the matter of the slaying of the Priest and his servant, since you were among those who pledged to pay the reward if the two murdered persons were discovered in your neighborhood. You have acknowledged that you have no doubts about the honesty of the investigation, and in spite of this, you are determined to pay your share of this promised reward. You have told us what you know about the party, and have said that you paid the five hundred piasters (500) so you would be spared from all these questions. Now that the formal questioning sessions are over, tell us what you were afraid to reveal? Was it something which you learned while attending the party?"

Shehadih answered, "Sir, I have told" you what happened at the party. At that time, I did not know if those present were the killers or not. Nobody informed me about that, and I do not know anything more. I am at your disposal. If you know of anything concerning me, I am ready to defend myself."

"A month passed after the report of the Consul. Then a message arrived to the Investigation Committee containing the following:

I have notified your Excellency earlier, that there are continuous movements advantageous to the interests of the detained Jews for intervention in the case of the slaying of the Priest and his servant. Today we learned that Khalil Saidnawi, the servant of Mohammal Talli, received a promise, from the Jews of Damascus, to give him amount of money in order to provide them with a report that would contradict all previous reports. Also they promised to pay sums of thousands of Riyals in exchange for being granted protection by the Consulate."


Date: Safar 20, 1256 H.

Signed: Consul of France in Damascus



The French Consul dispatched a report, a follow up to his message, as follows:


"Introducing to your Excellency a Supplement to our message No. 28, dated 20th of Safar, 1256 H, regarding the money which was offered by the Jews to Khali Saidnawi, to obtain from him testimony that would weaken the investigation, which they claim, has been conducted. This plan was taken with the knowledge of the Austrian Consul to Damascus. I also submit to your Excellency what has taken place on this subject. A person who is under the protection of the French Consulate received a request from one of the represented Jews to secure a meeting with Shubli Ayub, who is one of your trusted public officials, for the purpose of dealing with an important problem. They informed us of the matter, and we gave them our permission in order to learn what the Jew, who came with a request of four things wanted.

First. Not to include their religious books in the investigation, because, they claim, this would be insulting and harmful to the community.

Second. To avoid mentioning the translations and the interpretations, which Abou Al-Afieh has obtained, from the Jewish book and seek their destruction.

Third. A request for the intercession of the French Consul with your Excellency for the release of Muallim Rafael from arrest, and to find the mean to reduce the verdict of those found guilty of the crime from the death penalty to a lighter and less harsh sentence.

Fourth. A sum of five hundred thousand piasters (500,000) has been allocated for the fulfillment of the above three terms. The amount of one hundred and fifty thousand piasters (150,000) would be paid immediately upon the return of the document and the rest, the amount of three hundred and fifty thousand piasters (350,000) would be paid upon the execution of the above mentioned terms. The sum will be handed to whomever the French Consul chooses.

On the second day, a bag containing silver currency arrived and I learned that the family of Meyer Farhi, in whose house Priest Thomas' servant was slain, sent it. The agent, who carried this as a trust, said that he did not know why the Farhi's Family sent the money; and that was all they said to him was, 'carry this bag, in it there are five thousand piasters (5,000), and deliver it to Chubly Ayub.' He brought the bag at once and delivered it to us.

It appears that this money is what they had promised him to help Meyer Farhi. We opened the bag and found in it four thousand three hundred and twenty-two piasters (4,322). It is being kept in our possession. Shubly Ayub has asked the Jews about the sum of money and who are those who obligated themselves to pay it. The answer to that was that some Rabbi's and Trustees of the Collection Box have agreed on this matter, and that they did not collect money from anyone: that it was from the Synagogue Chest. Therefore, there is no fear of this matter becoming known. This is the Jewish representative, who testified when he presented his petition, as stated earlier. And Khawaja Beaudin, the Austrian Consul's Assistant has received a proposition, from the Jewish Community through the representative himself, that he would be presented with three hundred bags for his personal efforts to reduce the penalty of the convicted persons accused in the slaying case of the Priest and his servant. The representative said, "this sum of money may be increased if he (Mr. Beaudin) thinks it is too little."

These two subjects show the strong movements by the Jews, which I feel compelled to bring to your Excellency's attention.


Date: Safar 20, 1256 H.

Signed: The French Consul in Damascus


Due to this development, the Investigation Committee called both, Mohammad Talli and Khalil Saidnawi. Mohammad Talli came alone, and he was asked about the truth of the matter which was contained in the French Consul's report. He confessed to it. And because Khalil Saidnawi did not come, Mohammad Talli was dismissed on the condition that he come tomorrow morning with Khalil Saidnawi. The two came on Thursday morning, the 21st of Safar, 1256 H. and were questioned.


The Investigator asked Khalil Saidnawi first, and he confessed by saying, "I am renting a liquor store in the Jewish Quarter, near Eliahou Nahmed's house. Nahmed was in my shop on Monday, Safar 16, 1256 H. He said to me, 'What is this matter and what is the origin of it?' I said, 'What matter do you mean?' He replied, 'When you were detained in the prison, your wife said, 'If my husband is beaten I will disclose the secret of the Priest.' I told him that my wife did not say such a thing and would not say it. She does not know anything about the case. Then he said to me, 'This case is finished. How would you feel about making some money out of it, plus getting protection? Would not that be better for you than moving to Alexandria and becoming a target for accusation and your face being beaten, even being killed? {NOTE: It became publicly known that the Austrian Consul had let it be known in Damascus that the Khedevi of Egypt, Mohammad Ali Pasha had decided to study the case himself.}

We wanted you to have the benefits from this case, since you are among us and in our neighborhood, and work with us as is known. Someone other than you would be subject to questioning and investigation. Also, a message has been received from the Pasha, Mohammad Ali, forbidding the beating of the Jews or harming them, stating that their case will be handled by the Austrian Consul in Alexandria, and that the French Consul is not permitted to deal with or to look into the matter. So, the investigation will be handled only by the Austrian Government officials. Talli, Mansour Tayyan, Moussa Sadaqah, Chubli Ayub, Francis Salina, and you will be called. Talli will be beaten until he admits what he has been told to say, which is that Talli asked you to throw the bones in the course of the Salty River. Then they will beat the Barber and he will say that Talli is the one who asked him to get rid of these notables, and the case will end in this manner.

If you do not believe me, I will swear by your Christ and our Lady Mary. And if you do not believe then, I will also swear to you by the Taghalin. And he swore to me, that no harm would befall me. A moment of silence passed, then he said, 'Tell me.' I replied, 'What should I say to you?' He said, 'I know that you are still hesitant and not sure. Come with me and I will show you a document that will guarantee you safety and protection, and a passport for you plus the money you need.' I got up and went with him to the Austrian Consul's residence. They brought a chair for me to sit on. I sat with the Consul, Picciotto, Eliahou Nahmed, and the Assistant to the Consul. Isaac Picciotto played the role of translator between me and the Assistant to the Consul, who started the conversation by saying to me, 'Tell me what you are going to say in order to deserve the Consulate's protection and the money?' I said to him, 'What do you want me to say to you? Do you want me to invent something for you?' He said, 'Why then did you come here?' I said to him, 'Mr. Eliahou Nahmed brought me here so that I would say what you want. Write it down for me and I will memorize it.' Then Isaac Picciotto said to me, 'Tell us and take four thousand (4,000) ghazis, (one hundred thousand piasters).' And he reached with his hand, for his wallet, into a pocket under his shirt, in order to show me that he was ready to give me the money. I said to him, 'This is a very large sum of money, and your wallet is not big enough to contain it.' Isaac Picciotto replied, 'You will receive the money either from me or somebody else, and we are ready to give you the money now.' I answered him, 'I am not in a hurry to receive the money. I want a period of three days to think.' They said to me, 'Are we women or children in your eyes? He who want to talk after three days can talk now. If you are still not sure or comfortable, His Excellency's Assistant is ready to give you his word of honor. You and your family can always stay with him. If you would like to go to Alexandria or Aleppo, he can send you to work as an interpreter. {NOTE: The Consul of Aleppo was an Austrian Jew named Elyan Picciotto.}


'Also if you want you can go to Beyrouth (Beirut).' I answered him, 'Delay the matter until tomorrow because he who has no master has a partner.' He said to me, 'My son, the tail of happiness is a slick one. Do not catch the tail, but catch the head.' {NOTE: A folk saying meaning take a chance quickly, catch it before it disappears.} After that they tried me very hard, and I do not remember what was said to me. Finally, I said to them, 'Night talk is bad, give me time until tomorrow to consult with my partner.' {NOTE: Saidnawi wanted to bring in another witness.} They replied, 'We will give you a period of six days but you must answer us properly and clearly.' The following day was Tuesday. I met with Eliahou Nahmed in his house and he said to me, 'Who is your partner?' I said to him, 'Mohammad Talli.' He said, 'What Talli knows you know yourself.' I replied, 'True.' He said, 'But I say to you that we are afraid of him, and are not comfortable about him.' I answered, 'Don't you worry about him. I guarantee you that. You also sent for Talli and promised him a reward of four thousand Ghazis.' He replied, 'Yes, but we could not trust him.' I said to him, 'Don't worry, I guarantee you to convince him to say for you what you want, so do not be afraid of him.' I got up and left his house, and went immediately to Mohammad Talli's house and told him what we talked about in detail. At the same time Nahmed went to bring the money. When I finished talking, Mohammad Talli got up and went to the house of the French Consul and told about our conversation. The following day, which was Wednesday, the French Consul called me and questioned me. I admitted to him all what had happened. He told us, 'You go, and try your best to obtain from him (Nahmed) a written document of what is required of you, take what money they give you and come to me, and I will take you to the Pasha, the Governor General.'

We left the house of the French Consul. Mohammad Talli sent me to Eliahou Nahmed to inform him that 'I had been able to convince Talli, and that he, Eliahou Nehmad, should go with me to Mohammad Talli's house, and that he should bring the money, so that I could give Talli the money in your presence, and you take from him what you want.' I went to Eliahou Nahmed's house and told him of the plan. He replied, 'then you appoint or choose someone to represent you to receive the money. He will take the money to the Austrian Council's house to deposit it in a box there, and keep the keys with you until you give us the proof. After we have the proof you may come to the Consul's house and take your deposited money; and the Consul's protection you are promised. Do not be afraid, both of you, for we will refuse the matter all together if you are successful in your task. At this point the Austrian Consul will obtain soldiers from the Pasha and they will be sent to the place you reveal as the place where the remains of the Priest are hidden. No one will mention your names.'

I replied to him, 'I know of no agent or box. My pocket is the place where I deposit my money. If you want us to work with you, give us the money, either at my house or at Talli's house. After that you take whatever papers you need.'

The money was kept with Nahmed on the condition that I will return to his house, after sunset, and bring Talli with me. However, I did not find Talli in his house, and when I returned to Nahmed's house he met me with anxiety saying to me, 'I request of you by your yours, and your family's honor to tell me the truth. You have now become a member of my family, we shared the meal of bread and salt together. Do you know that the Governor, the Pasha, has called Mohammad Talli to meet with him?' I answered him, 'I did not know that this had happened. The reason for this could be related to tax matters. Anyway, he will be returning to his house. I will go to him and inquire of him what has happened, and bring him to you.' I went to Mohammad Talli's house at Isha time. He was there. I met with him, and said to him, 'the people are very restless because you went to the Pasha. They want you to come to them.' He replied by saying, 'See people in the morning, and do not see them at. night. If it is necessary for me to comply with their wishes to see me tonight, they are welcome to come to my house. Let them bring the money with them, so we may give them the desired report.'

I went back to Eliahou Nahmed's house, carrying this message of Mohammad Talli, with what he wanted me to say. Nahmed sent me back, and for the second time he requested that I bring Talli with me to his house. When I returned, I found that Talli had left his house and had gone to Hanna Taweel's house. I followed him there, and told him, 'The people want you in their house.' While we were there, discussing this, there was a knock on the door, and George Hamami entered by saying, 'There are two Jews in Talli's house, and they want him. We left Taweel's house for Talli's house. We found Eliahou Nahmed there with his servant. The other Jew who was with Nahmed was a European, by the name of Isaac Zalta. He and two or three others left in the direction of the Silver Gate. We all went inside Talli's house and he began to talk with him regarding this matter."

The above information was the testimony of Khalil Saidnawi to the Investigation Committee. The Committee next called Talli in requesting that he read the contents of the testimony of Saidnawi. When he finished reading the testimony he agreed that the contents of the testimony were accurate as to what had occurred.

He said, "All of the contents of this report are accurate. Yesterday, His Excellency, the Governor General, inquired of me regarding this matter. I informed him, verbally, as to what had happened. Then I told him that I had been promised that I would get the money tonight. I have come today in order to present to you what has occurred. Eliahou Nahmd came to my house. He was seen entering my house by George Hamami, Mohammad Hariss, and the son of Baqsimawi Mohammad. And when Ibu Zalta saw me coming from Taweel's house he left in the direction of the Silver Gate. We then entered the house. Afterwards, after we sat down and Eliahou Nahmed said to me, "We have talked to you of the matter before. But neither of us had trust in the other until Khalil came as an intermediary which brought us together. There is nothing left between us except what God has forbidden. I entered your house motivated by the love between us, in order for you to benefit from this case, which is no longer a problem. Have no fears because His Excellency, the Austrian Consul, has guaranteed your complete protection. If you take refuge in his house nothing will get to you, not even rain from the sky. We have learned that they have promised you the sum of fifty thousands, and have guaranteed your protection. Have they given you anything, or has it all been falsely promised? They have cheated you, deserted you, and did not give you anything. But we will give cash money, and we ask of you nothing until you get the protection which we spoke about. Also, Isaac Picciotto sends his greetings to you, hoping that you will forget all traces of the argument between the two of you. He praises your stand toward him, because you have not said anything to harm him. After he learned that you did not get anything he wants you to benefit from this case. If you do not believe me, or trust me, let us go. I will accompany you to the Assistant of the Austrian Consul, who will swear to you on his honor, that also Picciotto will promise you faithful commitment; to be true to you and give you whatever is due."


Then I replied to him that I wanted to help them, and that he was being truthful in his words and deeds; "that we too would be truthful to you if you will show us the way you are going. Thus I made a promise with Khalil. I will not go to the Assistant of the Consul. Just give me a copy of what you want, so that I can write for you, in my own handwriting, and stamp it with my seal." He answered me, "We have no copy or a written format to dictate. What we want from you is that you do it? I said, "By God, the only thing I know is what has become clear to all people as the shining sun. The rope of lie is short. If I started with a made up story, and it is shown to be false, the bad repercussion will be reflected on you and me, because the investigation and examination will sort out the truth from the falsehood. And as I understand, you have submitted complaints, that you have sufficient proofs about the disposal of the Priest Thomas, and that you have what is needed to refute the accusations against you. If you have a method that would benefit me and you, or an acceptable logical explanation, which one can depend on, give me some direction or guide line which I can keep and follow." He said to me, "What we want from you is to tell the truth, because if we had any of the truth we would not have needed you." I replied, "If I had the true facts of the crime I would have submitted them 'to you freely, in order to have benefited from it." Khalil interrupted by saying "He did not speak with me about that, but he did say to me, "Give me the money, and I will tell you where his remains are, supporting this with reliable proofs." He said to me, "So, you really do not trust me, I want to take you to the Consul." I said, "I do not go, and if you do not have trust in me, then let me go to sleep."


I repeated my saying that "I can not lie about anything. If Khalil told you something which is not true, Khalil is here in front of you." Khalil responded, "You did not say that. I say today, and I will say tomorrow, bring the money and I will tell where the remains of the Priest Thomas are. I am ready to testify to this in the presence of the Governor General, the Pasha, as I have promised to convince Mohammad Talli. If he is convinced, that will be good. If he is not, then I can only say to you, give me the money." With this, Eliahous Nahmed left. Afterwards I asked Khalil, "How can you say that you know the place of the Priest's remains, and try to convince me of that?" He replied, "True, you also know where the Priest's bones were, and from where we salvaged them, and when they went with us. All I wanted was to get the money from them first, then confess to what is already known." So, I decided to come and give my testimony.

After this, the Investigation Committee met to review the case. The number being accused in this case included sixteen persons. Among them were: two, Joseph Aaron and Joseph Lifyado, who died during the investigation. Four others, Moussa Abou Al-Afieh, Aslan Farhi, Soliman Saloom (the Barber), and Murad Al-Fattal, were acquitted and pardoned because of their cooperation in providing valuable information which helped to reveal the others involved in the case.

Of the remaining ten, the Governor General, Sharif Pasha, issued his judgment, based on the verdict reached by the Investigation Committee, that they be executed. The ten convicted persons were: David Harari, Aaron Harari, Isaac Harari, Meyer Farhi, Rabbi Moussa Bokhoor Yehuda (Salaniki), Murad Farhi, Aaron Islambouli, Isaac Picciotto, Jacob Abou Al-Afieh, and Joseph Menachem Farhi.

The execution of the ten men was to take place after the Governor General's approval and public announcement. However, the French Consul, Mr. Comte De Ratti-Menton, succeeded in obtaining an order to refer the judgment to Ibrahim Pasha, the Commander General of the Egyptian Armies for his approval. This delay was sufficient time for saving the lives of those who had been condemned to die. Because during this time, two prominent Jewish lawyers, sent by European Jews to save these members of the Jewish community arrived in Alexandria, requesting from Mohammad Ali Pasha that he issue an order for a new investigation. Khedavi Mohammad Ali Pasha realized that this would create a fiery hatred between Christians and Jews. Yet he promised them that he would issue his order to pardon the convicted Jews.

The lawyers pointed out to him, that the word "pardon" meant an acknowledgement of the "crime". They requested him to release them, and to permit the return of those who had fled. He submitted to their request.


{NOTE: Political and financial factors played a significant role in convincing Mohammad Ali Pasha to forgive these criminals. He was in dire need of money, and the friendship of European Governments, who were pursuing the English policy in order to remove the Syrian region from his rulership. He also saw sixty thousand bags of gold (300,000 gold liras) as being more valuable to the government than the execution of the ten Jews. Thus, he issued his order for their pardon and their release. Most of these men and their families moved to Egypt, where they remained, fleeing from the anger of the Christians and Muslims in Damascus. In Egypt, some became very rich and successful in the region economic and financial life, like the Hararis, Lifyado, and Abou Al-Afieh.}


As soon as Sharif Pasha received the orders from the Khedavi, he released the convicted, on the 15th of September, 1840, when the curtain was drawn on this crime.