Action on Basques Awaited
By RICHARD EDER
Special to The New York Times
MADRID, Dec. 29 — Generalissimo Francisco Franco met with his Cabinet in emergency session today amid a national groundswell of pleas for commutation of the court-martial death sentences imposed on six Basque guerrillas in Burgos yesterday.
The Cabinet met for three hours, then adjourned after waiting vainly for word from the commander of the Burgos military región, Lieut. Gen. Tomas García Rebull, that he had ratified the sentences. Official sources said that General Franco and his ministers were prepared to reconvene tonight if the notification arrived early enough.
If General García Rebull ratifies the sentences — as is expected — the Cabinet must then advise General Franco on commutation. Official sources said that General Franco and his ministers would probably meet tomorrow morning and make their decisión. Presumably, General García Rebull´s decisión will have been made by then.
If the Burgos commander does not ratify the sentences nine death penalties were imposed on six members of the guerrilla organization known as ETA and long jail terms on nine associates they go to a superior military court, where they might be tied up for at least three of four months.
The pleas for clemency were in no sense a campaign against
Continued From Page 1, Col. 3 the leadership. The opposition, though overwhelmingly supporting the pleas, was not prominent in promoting them today. On the contrary, it was the newspapers, ranging from extreme right to modérate, and all identified with the regime in one way or the other, that led the effort, with editorials asking that no lives be taken.
"The regime is strong and only the strong know how to forgive," said A.B.C. Other papers took the same position, arguing that the sentences had shown the Government´s firmness and it could now afford to commute sentences.
Most of the leading political factions and a majority of the Cabinet appear to oppose the carrying out of the death sentences. Their imposition yesterday, beside shocking public
opinión here, has stirred a storm of international protest.
Some ministers have said privately that they would resign if the executions were carried out.
It is still not olear, in view of the widespread sentiment within the Government against executions — and certainly against the six posed by the court-martial—how the verdict was reached.
One theory, which has gained support in view of the political difficulties raised by the judgment, is that the five-man panel, shut away for nearly three weeks, gave way gradually to the arguments of those of its members who took the hardest line.
Another, theory unprovable, is that there was pressure on the panel from certain rightwing generáls.
Reaction in the Basque country to the court-martial decisión was shocked anger. Several thousand Basque-speaking workers went on strike in Bilbao, and some 15,000 in the province of Guipúzcoa. Heavily reinforced pólice units patrolled San Sebastián, capital of Guipúzcoa, and there were some small demonstrations.
There was a tentativeness, though, to the Basque reaction. People seemed to be waiting to see whether the executions would actually take place. The same tentative note prevailed elsewhere, although numerous telegrams of appeal were sent to the Government by lawyers and other professional groups.
Reaction is slowed not only by the wait to see whether executions will take place, but also by the unexpectedness of the verdict. Speculation had ranged between no death sentences and one or two at most, The Most Rev. Jacinto Argaya, Bishop of San Sebastián and the Most Rev. José María Cirarda, Bishop of Bilbao rushed to Madrid last night to plead for clemency. They are reported to have seen the justice minister.