Chapter 24        Slander and Lies
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After Golubov was hauled away, a priest by the name of Schaievitch was called to the witness stand. He had quite a story to tell.

“A lady who lived near my house,” he recalled, “had wanted to build a big house for herself. One day, a Jewish money broker went over to her and asked her if she needed any money to finance the project. If so, he said, he would be able to procure for her any sum she might need. The lady told the Jew that she didn’t need any money from him at all, but he was not so easily dismissed. ‘Impossible,’ he said. ‘No matter how much money you have, everyone needs more when it comes to building a house. I know, because I have a lot of experience in these matters.’ The lady steadfastly refused his assistance, and he was finally forced to leave. A few days later, he returned and again hounded the woman. He mentioned to her that he was appearing as a witness at the Beilis trial. This time the lady had an even more difficult time getting rid of him, so she told him she would think the matter over and he should come back the next day. Since I am her priest, she came to see me and asked for my advice. Should she take the money or not? I told her not to take any money from a Jew and to chase him out the next time he comes. I told her not to have anything to do with him whatsoever.”

It was plain to see that the audience was not very taken with this priest’s “revelations.” He had not given any names or proof of any kind. It was a pure fabrication from beginning to end about some Christian lady and some Jew. The whole story was so clumsily concocted that it didn’t even make sense. Many people in the audience were even amused and smiled broadly.

After that fiasco ended, the Court Clerk began reading aloud the deposition of a witness who was unable to appear in person. His story fared just as poorly as the previous one. Perhaps this was the reason the witness did not want to appear personally in court.

According to the deposition, this witness claimed that he had been in prison with me. I had already been there when he was put in jail. And why was he incarcerated? Apparently, he was some type of court official, a solicitor, who had something to do with cases while they were being processed in court. In connection with one of his cases, some important papers and documents had disappeared. Since he was in charge of handling those cases, both he and the Court Clerk were accused of wrongdoing and imprisoned.

Well, according to the story, he was brought into my cell, and when I heard that he was an official of the court, I embraced him and kissed him and begged him to use his connections to save me. We were alleged to have become close friends. Supposedly, I disclosed to him the sordid circumstances of Yustchinsky’s murder and beseeched him to help me get out of this mess. I had detailed to him all the secrets of the “ritual” and given him the inside scoop. I had told him that in order to perform a ritual murder, one needed the participation of a physician who knew which thirteen spots on the human body could be stabbed in order to draw the most blood. I was alleged to have confided in him the name of the doctor so that he could get in touch with him when he got out. This doctor would then give him hundreds of rubles to aid him in “fixing” the case.

Who was this mysterious witness? It turned out that he actually was a prisoner who had been jailed for some crime and was in danger of being sentenced to a “military imprisonment,” which was a very severe penalty. In his desperation, he thought of writing a letter to the Minister of Justice stating that he had some important evidence to give against Beilis. If his freedom could be arranged, he would be happy to tell all he knew and help them procure my conviction.

The Minister of Justice was the notorious Schtcheglovitoff who fell for the bait and believed he had found a prized witness. The Minister gave orders for the man’s immediate release, and he was promptly freed by the court officials, who had no choice but to follow orders. However, when he began to give his “testimony,” the judicial authorities realized what had happened, but they thought that perhaps there was a chance that the stupid peasants on the jury might believe such a preposterous tale if it were properly rehearsed. But no amount of rehearsing would have enabled this witness to survive the cross-examination by my lawyers. Therefore, he was “unable” to make a personal appearance in court.

The moment the reading of the deposition concluded, Gruzenberg jumped up and inquired why such an important witness had not been brought to the court. The Presiding Judge rejoined that the witness could not be found. The authorities had lost his address.

The next witness’s testimony was also read to the jury. It was now Kozatchenko’s turn, and he also declined to testify in person for fear of cross-examination. In his deposition, he stated that we had shared the same cell for several months and that, during that time, we frequently discussed Andriusha’s murder. Since I had known that Kozatchenko was to be released shortly, I had allegedly asked him to do two things—to get a letter to my wife and to have some witnesses poisoned. (Adverse witnesses, of course!) The lamplighter who had testified against me and a certain shoemaker were to be included. I was alleged to have told him he would be given strychnine by a doctor at Zaitzev’s hospital. I was further said to have promised him he would be handsomely rewarded by “certain Jews.”

After this story was read, Gruzenberg again demanded to know why such an important witness was not ordered to appear in person. After all, my lawyer pointed out, much of the indictment was based on this man’s statement. The Presiding Judge answered that the police were unable to locate this witness as well.

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