Thursday, October 31, 2013

Mendel Beilis -- The Psychiatrists

This is the summary of the 24th day of the Mendel Beilis trial, which occurred on 18 October, 1913 on the Julian calendar, 31 October, 1913 on the Gregorian calendar.

This day occupies pages 252 through 293 of Volume II of the transcript.
 See the translation of the transcript for day 24.

It is unethical for doctors to give opinions on people they have not examined.  Clearly the person the psychiatrists should have examined was Beilis.  Instead, they were assigned to examine the physical evidence from the autopsies – reports and specimens that Dr.s Pavlov and Kadyan called inadequate and faulty – and derive their opinions from that.

Upon coming into court, Prof. Bekhterev announces that the psychiatrists have not come to a unanimous conclusion because Prof. Sikorsky refused to take part in the discussions.

Sikorsky, the only psychiatrist called who believes in ritual murder, has a different definition from both Archimandrite Ambrosius and Justinas Pranaitis.  His definition also contradicts the government theory of the Yushchinsky case.  Finally, I realized as I read it that when tied up with the fact of exsanguination, Sikorsky might as well have been talking about accusing somebody of being a Count-Dracula style vampire.  Read it and see.

Then Prof. Bekhterev comes to the stand and takes Sikorsky apart like a Tinker Toy.  Bekhterev shows that Sikorsky’s claims have absolutely no basis in the record of the autopsy or in medical science, either surgical, forensic, or neuro-pathological.  Bekhterev also supports Pavlov and Kadyan in saying that if collecting blood had been a goal, the murderers did everything that most contributed to NOT obtaining blood.  He says the people who did it might have been insane, but they weren’t perverts because they didn’t touch the sexual organs.  In other words, the government theory is a bust from start to finish, when it comes to any sort of a factual basis.

The defense makes an objection here which will have consequences later.   Sikorsky brings notes of the blood libel information he wants to present and the defense insists that the court take possession of them and attach them to the case, so that upon appeal it can be proven what Sikorsky said.  This is in lieu of the judge having Sikorsky’s entire harangue put on record exactly as it was said, which the judge doesn’t immediately agree to do because the prosecution doesn’t want him to do it.  On day 26 Pranaitis therefore will deny that he needs notes to speak, he will do it from memory.  With devastating results for his own credibility.

The real reason for not putting Sikorsky’s remarks on record, and also refusing to attach his notes to the case, was that without one or both of these actions, the defense could not appeal based on Sikorsky’s remarks or use those remarks in any appeal.  The transcript was insufficient as a government record that could be used on appeal. 

Shmakov's words sound almost tearful as he tries to get Bekhterev to say things that support Shmakov’s obsession and Bekhterev refuses to play along.  Shmakov consistently questions witnesses as if he believes that they really know what he knows and they really believe what he believes, they’re just playing along with the various sides, including the defense. 

Sikorsky claimed to be repeating material from a book by the great Russian lexicographer and mythographer, Vladimir Dal.  But there’s a problem: Dal produced a report in 1844, 100 pages long, in 10 copies, for official consumption only.  Sikorsky claims all the copies disappeared.  The question then becomes how could he quote from it.  So a little later he contradicts himself and says maybe 2-3 copies survived.

That is because probably Sikorsky is actually quoting from a book published anonymously right before the trial opened.  Later academics disagreed on whether this was a copy of Dal’s book or not.  So far I can’t find an authenticated copy of Dal’s book in existence; a 172-page composition posted on the Petrozavodsk University server is not authenticated as Dal's work, let alone as a copy of the original, and there is no email address to write to for authentication.  The material on the website uses exclusively Western European sources and espouses the Chassidic responsibility for ritual murder that was part of the government’s theory.

In any case, to use the book at trial, a forensic investigator should have examined it for relevance to the case, written a report on the examination, and officially attached it.  Without these actions, the book should not have been used at trial.  But once it was, refusing to put Sikorsky’s remarks on record precisely as they had been spoken, shut off the other avenue for putting those remarks in an appeal.

At the end of the day, Kosorotov comes back on stage and tries to swing the evidence the government way.  He is barely comprehensible.  Just like with the issue of which wounds should be considered fatal, he says that just because the shvaika was used to stab Andrey, doesn’t mean it should be called a stabbing weapon, since it does not have the shape dictated by the definition of a stabbing weapon.  And therefore Andrey’s wounds should not be called stab wounds.  Clear?  Kosorotov keep saying “I don’t understand,” particularly how the anatomical data could lead to such different views.  Well, his views were handed to him by the government, which was not true for Pavlov, Kadyan, Bekhterev and Karpinsky, and that is the real explanation of their differences. Was he threatened with losing his job, or his membership in that organization he was so proud of?  

Judge:  Fyodor Boldyrev

            Criminal Prosecutor, Oscar Vipper
            Civil Prosecutor Georgy Zamyslovsky
            Private Civil Prosecutor Aleksey Shmakov

            Oscar Gruzenberg
Nikolay Karabchevsky
Dmitry Grigorevich-Barsky
Alexandr Zarudny
Vasily Maklakov

Ivan Andreevich Sikorsky
Psychologist who contributed to indictment
Irrelevant or unfactual testimony
Disagreed on every detail with Sikorsky
Agreed with Bekhterev
Back to try to re-establish his expertise


© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

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