Defense Lawyers for Basques Weep For Clients and Share Their Danger
By RICHARD EDER Spccial lo The New York Times
New York Times (1857-Current file); Dcc 15, 1970; ProQuest Histórica! Ncwspapcrs The New York Times (1851- 200
Defense Lawyers for Basques Weep For Clients and Share Their Danger
By RICHARD EDER
Sprtlu lo The New York Times
BURGOS, Spain, Dec. 10— "I don´t believe I have wept since I was a boy. Maybe once, when my wife came to see me in Almería."
Juan María Bandrés, sittíng over a 4 P.M. lunch here yesterday, still looked shaken. He and five or six of the other lawyers at the Burgos court-martial had watched ín tears as their young clients, handcuffed, singing and shoutíng, were taken off by the pólice.
The defense lawyers have a strong emotional link with the 13 men and the two women they are defending. Most of them, like their clients, are Basques, and they. share profoundly the convictíon that there ís a Basque nation, and that it has been oppressed ever since the Civil War ended in 1939.
Some of the lawyers have paid for these convictions and for their insistence on defending compatriota arrested for what the courts call "separatist activities"— orr in the case of the ETA guerrilla group tried here— "separatist-terrorist - Communist activities."
José Antonio Echevarrieta, a spindly, bearded lawyer with a flashing wit and an illness that obliges him to use crutches, was set upon one night ín the hallway of his apartment and beaten bloody.
Arrested at Home Mr. Bandrés was picked up at 5 A.M. one day last December at his home Ín San Sebastián. He was driven in a pólice car across Spaín —spending the night Ín the jail in Córdoba — and set down, with his suitcase, in the remóte mountafn village of Purchena, in the province of Almería. Two other lawyers át the court-martial were banished at the same time.
Mr. Bandrés remaíned in Purchena for three months. His wife gave birth to a boy and then joined hím as soon as she could.
At the Burgos courtmartial, as in all Spanish military triáis, the defense lawyers have been at a striking disadvantage. Many of the proofs and witnesses they request are denied them. In a number of áreas where their case might be helped— for example, elicitíng evidence of pólice mistreatment —they are cut off.
In additíon, of course, their clients are generally "guilty" of many oí the acts with which they are charged—acts that are not illegal Ín other countríes: distributing propaganda, holdíng meetings, Ín other words, political activity.
Confronted with those difficulties, the lawyers practice legal resistance quite as much as legal defense.
When the foreign press is admitted, as In the current case, they seek not so much to prove that their clients did not viólate Spanish law as that the laws are such that any decent man in conscience ought to viólate them.
That Míssing Sword A number of images of the Burgos trial remain in the mínd.
Gregorio Peces-Barba. , a Madrid lawyer with a solemn, oratorical manner and a startlingly quick mind, proposing that the proceedmgsbe started all over again because the prosecutor had forgotten to wear his sword. Mr. Echevarrieta shoutíng at the presiding judge, who had cut off almost every word of his effort to interrógate his client: "These are six death sentences that are being asked!"
And Mr. Bandrés, whose manner is diffident and introspective and who, when he explodes, does so as if some unutterably tragic point of no return bad been reached — even though there was such a point only five minutes earlier.
His sweetness ís more deadly than his explosions.
Interrogating one of the accused, who the pólice had picked up to identiry a companion, Mr. Bandrés asked if the accused had noticed anything unusual about the other man´s face. The president interrupted, declaring the question irrelevant.
"If the court picases," Mr. Bandrés said, "if it is a matter of a face-to-face identification, it seems to me most relevant lo know whether one of the faces is swollen or disfigured."
These were games, but very seríous games. It is conceivable that after the verdict is In there will be reprisals against some of the lawyers. In any event, there was tensión, and the lawyers tried to relieve it—by passing notes during the session, for instance.
"He is a truck-driver with a truckload of participies," one note remarked or the prosecutor, a heavy-featured captain with a ponderous, hortatory delivery.
Note About Judge
"He -knows how to read, but badly," another said of the investigating judge, who spent most of three days reading out the indictment.
"Wálter: whisky, please. I have to be serious"—this from a lawyer about to interrógate his client.
The lawyers have now gone home to await the verdict. Mr. Bandrés returned to San Sebastián, where he is a considerable, if slightly seandalous, figure.
"Scandalous" seems a strange word to apply to a man whose manner Ís so mild and affectionate and who describes himself as a practicing — others say devout— Román Catholic, though a Catholic of the left.
"What 1 like, in fact, is to be at home with my wife, wear slippers and listen to music," he has said.
Sometimes Mr. Bandrés does manage to stay home, put on a sweater and curl up on a tasseled sofá to listen to Beethoven´s Seventh Symphony. Then some friend turns up, sits politely for a while, begins to wave his arma as if he were conducting and flnally drags his host into discussing some urgent case that must be attended to.
Mr. Bandrés has, in fact. become something of an essentlal personage in the Basque country, and It was he who coordinated the effarts of the other lawyers at the court-martial.
He considers himself a man of the left as well as a Basque nationalist, and he talks musíngly about Premier Fidel Castro, the Pragüe uprising and other things. But he belóngs to no party. What makes him a leader among the Basques is his ability to take the anguish that he and hls friends feel about the situation and transíate it into a series of small, practical steps.
He is trusted and consulted by bishops, members of ETA, his fellow lawyers and a wide range of others.
The Government does not consult him, but it is likely that if some future Spanish regime—or even some variation of the present one — decides to come to terms with the Basques, It will try to make its peace with Mr. Bandrés. He may or may not be willing.
"People keep calling me," he said. "They want me to come, to talk with them. It is strange. I was the son of a lower-middle-class family and we were on the republican side in the war. But I never wanted to he a political perr son. People are offered things they don´t want, I notice, and the things they do want they aren´t offered."
It was dark by now. Later that night, someone—perhaps a relative of one of the Basques on trial—traced in the thin snow outside the hotel the words "Gora Euzkadi" ("Long live the Basque nation"). By morning it had melted away.
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