Decisión, Following Many
Clemency Appeals, Eases the Tensión in Spain
TERMS TO BE 30 YEARS
Announcement Comes After Cabinet Meeting—General Speaks to Nation on TV
Special to The New York Times
MADRID, Dec. 30—Generalissimo Francisco Franco today commuted all the death sentences imposed in the Burgos court-martial of 15 Basque guerrillas charged with banditry and the killing of a pólice inspector.
The decisión put a dramatic end to the tensión that had buitt up in Spain and abroad over the last month, and that has provided the Franco leadership with its most serious politkal crisis in the 30 years since the civil war.
General Franco´s decisión, in the face of worldwide clemency appeals, was officially announced immediately after a Cabinet meetíng.
Six of the convicted Basques would have been shot by firing squad tomorrow mprning in Burgos if the sentences had not been commuted. They are now to serve 30-year prison terms.
Prisoners Are Notified The six—Francisco Izco, Eduardo Uriarte, Francisco Javier Larena, Joaquín Gorostidi, Mario Onaindia and José Mana Dorronsoro—were taken to the judges´ chambers in the Burgos prison this afternoon as soon as General Franco´s decisión had been announced.
Their lawyers, who went immediately to inform them; found that they thought they had been. brought there to start the vigil that precedes execution.
"They were in good spitits anyway," one of the lawyers said, "but naturally they were happy to hear the news.
"One of them told me they had been saving wine from their meáis to drink on New Year´s Eve," the lawyer said. "However, they drank it up last níght because they thought they would be shot tomorrow before evening came, and they didn´t want to waste it."
The 30 years that will replace each death sentence—in the case of the three men who had been given double death sentences this meant 60 years
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Franco Spares the Six Basques, Easing Political Crisis in Spain
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—are added lo other sentences rangíng from 20 to 30 years that each of the six received et the courtmartial, The 80 or 90-year tótals are theoretical. however, since by Spanish law no one may serve more than 30 years in prison.
The cabinet had been tapatiently waiting all morning for ratification of the sentences by Gen. Tomas García Rebull, commander of the Burgos Military Región. Once the ratification arrived, the Cabinet was called quickly into session. Thís was reauied by law, but the decision wheteher to approve ot commute the sentences was General Franco´s alone.
The widespread sense oí relief was perhaps expressed most vividly by the officially controlled news agency Cifra, which is one of the less liberal Spanish news organizations. Its first news flash, sent after the Cabinet meeting said simply:
"Amnestied. Amnestied. Amnestied."
Address to the Natíon
Tonight General Franco appeared on televisión to deliver his customary year-end address to tbe Spanish people. The 78-year-old Chief of State was dressed in a dark suit, a white shirt with a stiff collar and a patterned tie. He spoke whíle standíng up and looked well, though his delivery was jerky. bis voice often quavery and his words indistinct. Spaniards are used to this, however.
His address was low-keyed, As usual, it alluded mostly to the country´s growth and proggress. At the beginning he briefly mentioned "the splatterings of the winds of convulsion in which the world lives."
Only at the end did General Franco refer directly to today´s
decisión. He linked the commutation directly to the recent demonstrations of support for hís Government that have been organized in major Spanish cities,
"The immense vote of loyalty in the Plaza de Oriente in Madrid and throughout Spain that you nave offered, not only to my person but also to the Spanish Army and our institutions, has reinforced our authority to the point that it allows us, after consulting the Courtcil of the Realm, to use our right of commutatioin, despite the gravity of acts that the Burgos court-martial has judged with high patriotism," he said.
Sentences Caused Shock
General Franco´s decisión followed an erratic series of rising and waning expectations about the fate of the prisoners.
Late last week there was a wide-spread conviction in Government circles that the sentences of the fiveman courtmartial panel would avoid the dearth penalty altogether, or impose it only in one or two cases.
The announcement on Monday of the síx death sentences came as a shock, even to rightwing sectors of the regime, Three of the six doomed Basques faced double sentences of death, on sepárate counts. There were renewed reports that the army, angry at having been saddled with responsibility for an unpopular trial, was deliberately handing an explosive issue back to the Government.
The shock of the sentence: set off a campaígn for clemercy, All the press, from rightwring to modérate, insisted that the regime had amply shown is firmness.
The recent series of pro - Franco demonstrations across the country had proved, the newspapers said, that reports abroad of opposition to the leadership were false.