HC Deb 19 February 1884 vol 284 cc1332-3

asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, "Whether his attention has been called to the Correspondence between MR. W. G. Palgrave, Her Majesty's Political Agent and Consul-General at Bangkok, and the Siamese Foreign Office, respecting the case of Ai Baa, a coloured British subject, accused of murdering a Siamese policeman; whether it is true that, in a Letter dated 18th January 1882, MR. Palgrave officially stated that although there was not sufficient evidence to convict Ai Baa of culpable homicide, according to British Law, yet, there being in his opinion— Sufficient presumption of guilt to warrant his undergoing the full sentence applicable in such cases,

MR. Palgrave, as Consular Judge, had sentenced him to three years' imprisonment with hard labour; whether it is true that, in a Letter dated 30th May 1882, MR. Palgrave asserts that had Ai Baa been sent for trial to the Supreme Court at Singapore the result would have been his acquittal; whether, in the same Letter, MR. Palgrave states that, in order to prevent Ai Baa's acquittal by the Supreme Court— A result evidently not desired by the Siamese Government,

he had— Sentenced the man to the utmost in his power, viz. three years' imprisonment, any higher penalty being beyond the jurisdiction of his Court;

and, whether Government, in consideration of MR. Palgrave's admission, will take steps to secure the remission of the remainder of Ai Baa's sentence?


My reply to the first four Questions is in the affirmative. As regards the fifth Question, I may state that on receipt of a copy of the Correspondence the proceedings on the trial of Ai Baa before the British Consular Court at Bangkok were immediately called for, and were submitted to the Law Officers of the Crown, and the conclusion arrived at was that the trial and sentence was not invalid, and that the prisoner should not be discharged; but the question would be further considered.