Basque Defense Rcstricted by Court
By RICHARD EDER Speciai to The New York Times
New York Times (1857-Currenlfíle): Dec 9, 1970; ProQuest Historicaí Newspapers The New York Times (1851 -2001)
Basque Defense Restricted by Court
By RICHARD EDER
Special to New York Times
BURGOS, Spain, Dec. 8— The court-martial of the 15 Basques accused of terrorist activities resumed here today after a one-day recess, but with the presiding officer cutting off the kind of defense testimony he had permited on Sunday.
No longer were the accused allowed to give searing descriptions of the interrogation methods that they said had produced their confessions. Ñor were they permitted to make detailed statements of their opinions about Spain and the Basque revolution they were working for.
As the court-martial reconvened this morning in the big barracks downtown, Col. Manuel Ordovas´, the cavairyman. presiding over the fivemember panel, restricted testimony on pólice mistreatment to assertions that it had occurred. He refused to allow lawyers to question the accused about their beliefs, upbringing or what had led them to work in. the ETA organization, which advócates violence to bring about a Socialist Basque state in what is now the northern part of Spain.
At the start of today´s proceedings, each defendant´s lawyer made a point of congratulating the court´s judge advócate, Capt. Antonio Troncoso, on his quick recovery from the illness that had been described as the cause of the one-day recess. The lawyers appeared to be implying that the recess was used for a reconsideration of the way the court-martial is being conducted.
The first of the accused to be brought up. from the well at the front of the court in which the 16 prisoners sit was José Dorronsoro.
Mr, Dorronsoro, a thin-faced former seminarían, answered the prosecutor´s questions with loud and contemptuous no´s. He is accused of having helped plot the killing of Melitón Manzanas, pólice chief Guipúzcoa, and death sentences have been asked for him and five others allegedly involved.
His lawyer, Pedro Ruiz Balerdí, asked if he had been mistreated. Elaboration Refused
Mr. Dorronsorro said that he had been. and that he had never been brought before an investigating judge, as is required. President Ordovas allowed this, but he cut off the repeated attempts of Mr. Ruiz to get him to elabórate, until finally the lawyer burst out:
"Perhaps the court would prefer if I sent it telegrams ininstead of developing my case."
A second lawyer, Gregorio Peces Barba, tried to ask Mr. Dorronsoro why he thought he was being judged by courtmartial, whereas he had been tried by regular court on other charges concern ing ETA activities.
The use or a court-martial is one of the most sensitive points about this trial.
Q. Do you know why, at one point, you were tried by . . .
THE COURT. Irrelevant. Q. Can I finish my question?
THE COURT. No, sir. Q. But questions must be finished before they can be ruled ímpertinent. Finally, Colonel Ordovas allowed thim to finish the question and immediately ruled it irrelevant.
Another lawyer, Miguel Castels, began:
Q. You say you were mistreated. A. Yes, sir.
Q. How were you mistreated?
THE .COURT. You may say you were mistreated. You may not say how you were mistreated. We are not trying the pólice here.
Q. Do you feel you have freedom to answer here?
A. No, sir.
As the session wore on, the exchanges between the lawyers and the president grew angrier. The prosecution´s case, at least as regards the killing of inspector Manzanas, rests´mainly oft what the prisoners say about each other in their confessions. The defense feels that the confessions were produced by coerción, and that it must be given scope to demónstrate this.
There were points at which Colonel Ordovas relaxed his grip on the proceedings. During one of these, Eduardo Uriarte told of having been arrested and having seen another prisoner, Enrique Guezalaga, shot by a policeman who was handcuffting him with one hand and holding a pistól in the other.
"As Enrique fell," Mr. Uriarte said, "the policeman shouted, ´It was an accident.´ Enrique said, ´An accident... of course, of course... murderer.´"
The strongest confrontation between the lawyers and the court came when the central figure of the trial, Francisco Izco. took the stand. He is charged with having hidden in the stairwell of Inspector Manzanas´s house and having fired four bullets into him.
Mr. Izco, a short, roundfaced man of 29, got up before the tribunal, his hands behind his back. His lawyer, José Antonio Echevarrieta began to question him.
Mr. Echevarrieta is a thin, palé, bearded man who uses crutches because of a childhood illness. His brother, Francisco Javier, a member of ETA, was killed in a pólice ambush after he and a companion had killed the civil guard in a gunfight. It was in revenge for his death that ETA says it ordered the death of Inspector Manzanas. Judge Rules Out Reply
Mr. Echevarrieta tried to ask about the months Mr. Izco spent in solitary confinement, but the judge ruled out each answer. The lawyer tried to ask about Mr. Izco´s 24-hour ride in a pólice wagón, manacled, from Cádiz Prison te Burgos. He was cut off. He tried to ask. about his ínterrogation.
Q. Were you visited by pólice inspectors in Cádiz prison?
THE COURT: Irrelevant. Q. But this ís in the court. record. A. Irrelevant. Q. Sir, this is six deaths that are being asked. By this point, Mr. Echevarrieta, leaning forward on his crutches, was almost shouting at the judge: I have been denied 77 per cent of the proofs I asked for, and more than half the witnesses." He turned on Izco and said very Joudly;
"I have just one question then. Did you kill Inspector Manzanas?"
"No," said Mr. Izco, softly.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproductor! prohibited without permission.