A legal opinion emanating from Jacques Barozzi, the bank's lawyer, on the issue of Cevher Agha's estate. 13 August, 1909
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Transcript: With its letter dated 6/19 July, the Ministry of Imperial Endowments has requested that the estate in cash and securities deposited at the Bank of the recently executed Cevher Agha, chief gentleman-in-waiting of the ex-Sultan, be handed over to them. In support of its claim, the Ministry refers to an Imperial decree ordering the transfer of the estate of the deceased to the Solidarity Fund of Eunuchs at the Privy Purse. This claim by the Ministry of Endowments leads to the following objections.
According to an agreement between Turkey and Britain dated 11 Rebiülahir 1297 (23 March 1880), and to a law dated 4 Kânun-u Evvel 1305 (16 December 1889), slavery has been forbidden throughout the Ottoman domains. In fact, despite this ruling, it is true that slavery continues to exist in Turkey. Therefore, it is necessary ito properly assess Cevher Agha's legal status.
If this person is to be considered a free man, his estate will be transferred to his heirs. If, he is considered to have died a slave, Shari'a, courts rule that his estate should be transferred to the master who has purchased him. It is impossible for the Imperial decree concerning Cevher Agha's estate to have the legal implications the Ministry claims it has. Ever since the re-establishment of the Constitution, Imperial decrees no longer have force of law. Today, an Imperial decree can only ratify a law passed by Parliament. In this situation, and in order to answer the Ministry of Endowments' claim, the Bank should say that it needs precise information on the points specified above.