THE NEW YORK TIMES TUESDAY, DECEMBER 29,1970
Verdict of Court-Martial Is
Harsher Than Expected
By RICHARD EDER
Special to The New York limes
BURGOS, Spain, Dec. 28 — Six Basques were condemned to death today by a military court-martial on charges of banditry and of complicity in the killing of a pólice inspector. The sentences, issued in this icy upland city, were far harsher than had been expected even in Spanish political circles of the hardest line.
Three of the death sentences were in fact double sentences, with the court deciding that the accused had committed sepárate crimes of murder and banditry.
News of the death sentences evoked expressions of shock and pleas for mercy throughout Europe. A Vatican spokesman said reports of the news had been received with "profound emotion." He said the Holy See would continué its efforts to obtain commutation of the death sentences.
Could Be Commuted To take effect, the sentences must be ratified by the commander of the Burgos military district, Lieut. Gen. Tomas García Rebull. The Spanish Cabinet must then be notified, and at that point it is possible for General Francisco Franco to commute any or all of the sentences.
The death penalty imposed in Spanish courts-martial is carríed out by firing squad.
In addition to the death sentences, the 15 accused — members or followers of the Basque separatist guerrilla organizatíon known as ETA — received jail terms totaling 519 years 6 months 4 days.
These ranged from a mínimum of 12 years to a máximum, in two cases, of two death penalties plus 30 years in jail. One of two women among the 15 received a 50-year sentence. 16th Defendant Acquitted A 16th defendant, also a woman, for whom the prosecution ha dasked acquital, was in fact acquitted.
Eight jail sentences were lighter than the prosecution had asked. In several instances, however, including the double death penalties, the sentences were actually harsher than those asked by the prosecutor.
Nobody here is guessing as to what General García Rebull or General Franco will do, or how long a decisión will take. The verdicts were issued at 4 P.M. at the red brick headquarters of the military región.
The defense lawyers, who had
Continued on Page 9,Column 1
6 BASQUES TO DIE, 9 TO LONG TERMS
Spain Condemns 6 Basques to Death and Sentences 9 to Long Terms
Continued From Page 1, Col. 5 entered ln a cheerful, almost joking mood, emerged palé and almost unable to speak, clutching copies of the 60-page sentence. As word spread among Spanish and foreign journalists and observers gathered at a nearby hotel, there was also a sense of shock.
The shock is expected to be equally great throughout Spain when the verdicts are announced this evening. All comment in Spanish polítical circles over the last 10 days, including prívate forecasts by high government officials and by military souces, had ranged from no death sentences at all, to one or two, with a virtual certainty of commutatión.
Consternation in Burgos
Even in Burgos, an uncompromisíng garrison town that prides itself on its military spirit and loyalty to General Franco, there was some consternation. At bars and in the streets, people who were told of the sentences could hardly believe them.
A recent campaign in rightring groups among the leadership and in their newspapers, glorifying the disciplinary virtues of the regime, demanding strict enforcement of public order, and attacking the foreign press, had seemed tp nave spent itself last week in a series of pro-Franco demonstrations across the country.
Solidarity having been affirmed, however, the press comment took a milder tone. Even far-right papers were talking peace and progress in recent days, along with justice and discipline.
The reléase of Eugen Beihl, honorary West Germán cónsul
in San Sebastian, was another factor that suggested a relatively mild sentence. Mr. Beihl was kidnapped on Dec. 1 by an ETA group that announced it was holding him hostage for the lives of the accused in Burgos.
General García Rebull who has expressed his own distaste and that of much of the army over being saddled with responsibility for the courtmartial, could refuse to ratify the sentences. They would then go to the Supreme Court of Military Justice, where three t six months would be required for decisión.
Possibility of Clemency
But if General García Rebull ratifies the sentences, as seems likely, there remains General Franco´s clemency. At the time when it was assumed that only one or two death sentences would be imposed, this clemency was almost taken for granted.
If the Government´s intention is clemency, however, nobody here could see the logic of imposing nine death sentences first. The official position is that the Government had no knowledge or control of what the court - martial judges did. This is not widely believed.
Reaction in the Basquespeaking country is likely to be severe, unless commutatión is announced before much time passes. There were reports this evening that the pólice had begun to make a number of preventive arrests in the área.
The last political execution in Spain was the shooting of Julián Grimau in 1963, which provoked a great internationai outcry including an appeal by Giovanni Battista, Cardinal Montini, Archbishop of Milán,
who is now Pope Paul.
The Vatican and at least four European countries — France, West Germany, Belgium, and Italy—haye already made public or prívate appeals against execution.
Wide sectors of the regime and the army, not to mention the limited oppositioñ, have indieated that they would be horrified by executions.
The Burgos court-martial was the regime´s major blow against ETA. It began Dec. 3 and ended abruptly eight days later when the defendants staged a demonstration. Since then, the judges had been considering the verdict.
The guerrilla group ETA has been operating ín the Basque provinces for the last five or six years with the twin goals of a sepárate Basque state and a socialist revolution. The group´s initiais stand for Euskadi Azkatasuna, or Basque nation and freedom.
The ETA organizatiion, which probably numbers no more than 200 or 300 activists, has staged bank hold-ups, numerous small bombings, and other incidents. It planned and carried out — according to both its own and the Government´s claims — the kiling of a secret pólice inspector, Meliton Manzanas.
Those accused at the courtmartial were arrested nearly two years ago in a series of round-ups. They admit belonging to ETA, though they deny holding leading posts in it, as the prosecución charges. They also deny personal participation in Inspector Manzanas´s death.
Inspector Meliton Manzanas was head of the political pólice in the province of Guipúzcoa. He was shot dead on Aug. 2, 1968, on the stairs leadnig to his apartment in the town of Irún on the French border.
The killing, according to ETA leaflets, was a reprisal for the killing of an ETA activist, Javier Echevarríeta, in an encounter with the civil guard. Six of the accused, it was charged, took part in a meeting at which the slaying was planned and ordered.
Those Sentenced to Die
The six sentenced to die today are Francisco Izco, 29 years old, a prioter´s helper; Eduardo Uñarte, 25, a student; Joaquim Garostidí, 26, a labor leader; Francisco Larena, 25, a stüdent; Mario Onaindia, 22, a bank employe, and José Dorronsoro, 29, a former seminarían. Mr. Izco was charged with having shot Inspector Manzanas: the others were accused of having taken part in the ETA meeting at which his death was ordered.
Mr. Izco, Mr. Uriarte, and Mr. Gorostidi were sentenced to death a second time on general charges of banditry. Some lawyers speculated today that they were given the, additional sentence to justify the muchcriticized role of the military court in conducting the trial. Military courts have jurisdiction in Spain´s special legislation on banditry and terrorism."
Two priests, the Rev. Juan Echave and the Rey. Julián Calzada, were sentenced to 50 years and 12 years respectiyely. Juana Dorronsor and Iciar Aizpurua, wives of Mr. Izco and Mr. Gorostidi, were given 50 and 15 years.
The other sentences were 62 years for Jesús Abnisqueta, 70 years for Víctor Arana, 12 years for Antonio Carrera, 50 years for Enrique Guesalaga and 30 years for Gregorio López Irasuegui.
Mana Aranzazu Arruti, the wife of Mr. López Irasuegui, was acquitted.
In its sentence, the five-member military panel said it had been preved that ETA was a "separatist-Maxist - terrorist organization . . . whose purposes were to disturb puiblic order, hurt the prestige of the Spanish nation and institutions, destroy by violence the organization of the state, dismember a part of the national territory by subversive actions, terrorism, armed warfare and social revolution."
It went on to find that the accused had been leading members of the group and had directed or participated fully in its activities.
Late today the Government issued a note it described as "unofficial," going over much the same ground, and outlining the details of the prosecution´s case and the history of ETA.