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KUTAIS:

Russian city in the government of the same name; the scene of a trial for blood accusation in 1877. On April 16 of that year Sarra Modebadzé, a lame girl, six years old, of the village of Perevisi, visited the house of a neighbor, Pavel Tzkhodadzé, and did not return home. The child was last seen about three o'clock in the afternoon, and about the same hour seven Jews were seen on the Sadzaglikhevski road leading to Sachkheri. Two days later the dead body of the child was found, with no suspicious marks of violence upon it save two wounds on the hands, evidently made by the teeth of some animal. The body was quietly buried in the usual way.

The incident happened during the Jewish Passover, which fact suggested the guilt of the Jews. Four members of the Khundiashvili family—Iskhak Mordokhov, Bichia Shamuilov, Shamuel Aaronov, and Mordokh Iskhakov—and Iskhak, Mosha, and Yakov Tzveniashvili, all of the village of Sachkheri, were arrested on the charge of having kidnaped the girl and killed her. Mosha Yelov Tzotziashvili was accused of having brought the body of the murdered child from Sachkheri to the village of Dorbaidzé, where he left it, in order to divert attention from the alleged murderers; and Michael Abramov Yelikishvili, it was claimed, knew of the crime committed by his friends and relatives, but did not inform the authorities. Three autopsies proved that the child had been asphyxiated.

The trial began on March 5, 1879, in the Kutais district court, and on the 13th the defendants were acquitted. On an appeal to the supreme court the decision of the lower court was sustained. Both courts agreed with the defense that the child was killed by an accident. In 1895 Kutais had about 3,000 Jews in a total population of 26,000.

Bibliography:
  • Stenographic report of the trial, by Mmes. Syerdukova and Umnova.
H. R. M. Z.
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