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whose declaration may be of importance for the decision of the Court, whatever the import may be.
XLV. In case the retention of the prize should be absolutely impossible, the captor is permitted to arrange for its ransom, should it be a merchantman; making the captain give a copy of all his papers, and retaining one of his principal men or subalterns, and from two to five individuals of his crew, as their numbers may permit, who, besides serving to justify their conduct, shall be held, likewise, as hostages, until the contract be fulfilled.
XLVI. He that has once agreed to ransom cannot again take the ransomed vessel, nor subject it to a second ransom; but should the said vessel fall into the hands of a second privateer, it may be detained as a good prize, or be likewise admitted to ransom as the case may be; charging it in the first instance with the obligation contracted in favour of the former ransom, as far as the value of the prize goes, the hostages taken for its security, reinainiug as •simple prisoners, if they arc subjects of the enemy.
XLVII. He who accepts a ransom, without necessity, acknowledged by the Court, and all those who have consented to it, shall lose the part to which they are entitled of its value, and shall pay besides a like sum for the benefit of those interested.
XLVIII. Any violence to obtain the ransom shall be punished with five years hard labour, and they who shall arbitrarily exact it, with ten. The captain will incur the same penalty, and all his crew, if they should omit to do all that is provided in Article XLV.
XLIX. It is prohibited, under the penalty of from two to ten years hard labour, to sink or burn the vessel captured, unless without absolute necessity; and if, in consequence thereof, one or more of those on board should perish, then and for such offence shall the punishment of death be inflicted upon him who gave the orders for the act, or if no order were given, upon the actual perpetrators.
L. It shall only be allowable to sink or burn the vessel when it shall be impossible in any other way to prevent its falling into the hands of the enemy, collecting before all things every one there may be on board, and taking all the papers; any omission with respect to the first shall be punished as directed in the second part of the Article XLIX; and with respect to the second, with from two to ten years hard labour.
LI. The same penalty of death will be incurred by the captain who leaves the crew of the vessel to perish, if it should sink in consequence of the action, and when he being able to save their lives does not do so.
LII. The same penalty shall bo incurred if they are abandoned on desert coasts or islands.
LIIT. The prisoners shall be treated with all humanity and moderation, paying to every one the consideration due to his rank until they are delivered over to the military or, if none, to the political authority of the first port of the Eepublic where they shall arrive, taking the necessary certificate.
LIV. They who shall liberate the prisoners on their own authority shall pay a fine of 200 dollars for each one of those whom they Bet free, and if they have any interest therein, they shall lose it, that and the aforesaid fine remaining for the benefit of the Treasury.
LV. It is permitted, notwithstanding, to the captains or commanders to give them liberty, when, from their excessive number, there may be want of provisions, or for other sufficient causes, which prevent their detaining them, permitting them to pass to other vessels that they may meet on the high sea, or leaving them in foreign ports where they touch, with the knowledge of their Consuls, in case there should not be any Mexican Consul; but should there be one, they shall act with his knowledge, taking a certificate' from the Consul or from the captain of the vessel who may have received them.
LVI. The prisoners thus liberated shall enter into an agreement, signed by them, the captain, and other individuals of credit, obliging themselves to negotiate with their Government for the liberty of an equal number of Mexicans; the Consul, on his part, delivering a list to the Consul of the hostile nation, so that he may recommend the exchange on his side.
LVII. The individuals who may not be subjects of the enemy, can be left at liberty at whatever place they may request, on this being certified by the respective Consul, or by the captain or commander of the vessel in which he may have had to continue his voyage.
LVIII. Pirates are on no account to be set at liberty, but they shall be taken, without fail, to the Eepublic, to be judged according to the laws.
On the Ports to which the Prizes are to be taken.
LIX. The prizes shall be taken to the ports of the Eepublic which are open to foreign trade; but if there should be any danger of their falling into the enemy's hands, they may then be taken to those of the coasting trade.
LX. When the prizes are made at places very distant from the coasts of the Eepublic, and near ports of neutral Powers, they may be taken to the nearest where it is permitted, where there is a Consul or Mexican Agent, and there be sold, should they undoubtedly belong to the enemy, in the judgment of the said Consul. Excepting in these cases, this measure shall only be taken when the prizes cannot arrive at the ports of the Eepublic without certain danger.
LXI. In the cases referred to, the Consul shall open the box or bag in which the papers may be, in the presence of both captains, and from them shall have two certified copies taken, one to remit to the Government by the first packet that leaves for the Republic, and the other to keep in his archives, accompanying both with a list of all that there were, all parties agreeing to it. The originals being again packed up and sealed, shall be left in the power of toe captor, so that he may present himself with them at the Prize Court of the Republic.
LXII. The permission of the Consul for the disembarkation of the goods being given, he shall proceed with the discharge in the same manner as if he were the consignee, being present at the opening of the hatches, and other sealed places, and taking a circumstantial account of the cargo, furniture, money, and other things, which the captain who has made the prize may wish to hud, proceeding with all these operations in the presence of the parties interested.
LXIII. The sale shall be effected by the captain who has made the prize, with the intervention of the Consul, and its proceeds shall be deposited to his satisfaction, until the prize be judicially declared, one-half per cent, being deducted, which the said Consul shall receive for his remuneration.
LXIV. When the captain who has made the prize is ready to proceed on his voyage, he will do so direct to the ports of the Republic, taking with him the captain of the captured vessel, as well as the individuals mentioned in Article XLV.
LXV. The Consul, besides the copy prescribed by Article LXI, shall inform the Government of all that has been done, transmitting the respective documents, and giving notice of all that has occurred, which may be worthy of being made known.
LXVI. If the vessel should be wrecked or be taken by the enemy, or should not appear in the ports of the Republic within the longest term in which it might be able to do so, the Government will lay nil the documents which it may have received in respect to the prize before the tribunal at the port where the owner may reside, or at that nearest to his residence; and if he is not of the Republic, to any other of the said tribunals which it may deem expedient, in order immediately to proceed, in the presence of the same, or of him who may legally be his representative, to make the declaration in conformity with justice.
On eases in which Consuls may secure the Privateers, and liberate the Prizes themselves.
LXVII. When the privateer, on arriving under the Mexican flag at a foreign port, shall not present to the Consul the letter* of marque which authorizes it, the Consul shall denounce it to the authorities of the country for its seizure, and the crew shall be punished as pirates.
LXVIII. If, on the examination which the Consul has to make of the crew individually, it should be found that the captain or commander of the privateer has been guilty of any very serious or capital crime, he shall give the command of the vessel to the person who may merit his confidence, who will conduct the former as a prisoner, and under his own responsibility, to the ports of the Eepublic, having received the proper passport in the name of the Government/or the purpose.
LXIX. The said Consuls, in conjunction with two Mexicans, if there should be any at the port of their residence, and if not of themselves alone, may liberate the captured vessels, should the seizure be notoriously unjust, and if there should be no cause for suspicion, according to the provisions of the regulations, they being personally responsible for any abuse of this power.
On the Tribunals which have to take cognizance of Prizes. LXX. The cognizance of prizes belongs to the Circuit Courts of the District Tribunals, and the Supreme Court of Justice in the terms expressed in the Constitution of 1821,* and in the decree of 23rd May, 1826.
On what has to be done when the Prize has been definitively Condemned.
LXXI. A prize being declared lawful, and the sentence executed, it will be left to the entire option of the parties interested to sell it where and in what manner it may appear best to them, the Custom-House duties being previously paid, and the goods being cleared in the form which is customary with respect to other vessels.
LXXII. Should a disagreement arise between them in regard to the manner of effecting the sale in consequence of their not having arranged this point beforehand, that shall be done w-hich the owner or manager of the company may agree to, with two other persons who shall be named by the captain, and the other persons of the crew of the vessel; and if these should not be able to agree, a public sale shall take place, under the authority of the Clerk of the Court.
LXXIII. The prizes, or the part thereof, which may belong to the public treasury, shall also be sold by public sale, and the amounts carried to the respective treasury, in the same manner as with the fines, which are imposed by these regulations.
LXXIV. Prohibited goods shall be re-shipped, the parties interested being at liberty to take them for sale to a foreign country; * Vol. XIII. Page 701.
and if difficulties should present themselves, they may place them in bond until they are removed, paying the duties which have to be collected on this account.
LXXV. Before the prize is condemned, no one shall be allowed to purchase anything belonging to it, under the penalty of returning its value threefold, and the same punishment aa for theft if taken away clandestinely.
LXXVI. The individuals of the court shall not be able to buy anything before or after the prize has been legally condemned, under the same penalty of restitution and fine.
On what has to he done when the Prizes arrive at the Coast-Trade
LXXVII. When a prize is taken to a coast-trade port, tie political authorities of the Treasury which may exist thereat, shall direct what they may consider necessary for the landing of the goods.
LXXVIII. Tor their sale, a special licence from the respective court will be required.
LXXIX. The chest or bag in which the papers may be contained being given up without breaking the seals, and the proper examination of the hatches and other places being made, where seals may have been placed, they shall proceed, without the intervention of the authorities mentioned in Article LXXVII, to take a declaration from the captain of the detained vessel, and other individuals of its crew, who must be interrogated as well as those of the privateer, and upon this summary investigation they will give an express account to the court of the district, accompanied with their own report, and with the statement in writing, which the captain of the privateer must give, sending also the chest or bag mentioned.
LXXX. If the captain of the detained vessel should wish to present himself in person to defend his rights before the court which has to take cognizance of the prize, he shall be permitted to do so, as well as those whom he may require to accompany him, placing him under the necessary escort for his custody and security.
LXXXI. As soon as the court shall receive notice that a prixe has been conducted to a coast-trade port, the court shall duly inform the collector, so that he may name the officer he may think proper, and get the necessary particulars, with the view of performing the duties of inspector, and proceed with the arrangement of the duties which may be chargeable on the cargo, as well as with all the other operations of his office.
LXXXII. When the prize may have been arbitrarily taken to % coast-trade port, the said court may order that it may be conveyed to that where it belongs, should there be no danger or serious inconvenience to prevent it.