BY A SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
wI-11LE the world waited to hear the fate of the 16 Basques, including two priests, on trial in Burgos for murder and acts of terrorism, protests mounted throughout Spain. The police were reported to have been given special powers of arrest and indefinite detention without trial last Tuesday.
Last weekend 300 intellectuals staged a sit-in at the historic Benedictine monastery of Montserrat, just outside Barcelona. They included many of the most prominent lawyers, artists. architects, singers, writers, film directors and actors in Catalonia.
With the abbot's support, they refused to leave until police promised no action would be taken against them. Reports said the abbot replied to the Interior Minister's warning that the sit-in was provocative: "So was the Burgos trial."
Mr. Mendes-France, former French premier, sent a telegram to General Franco supporting the Montserrat sit-in and calling the trial "revolting."
The Basques are accused of the murder of a San Sebastian police chief in 1968, and of other terrorist acts. The verdict was not expected until the end of this week, although the hearing ended nine days ago. The delay was officially explained by the tribunal's need to study 3,000 pages of indictment.
The prosecution asked for death penalties for six of the accused, and a total of over 720 years' imprisonment for the other ten Basques, who include two priests and three women.
In the meantime, in response to an appeal from the wife of kidnapped West German consul Eugen Deihl, the Pope called upon his captors to allow the man to return to his family as a "Christmas gesture". A Basque nationalist organisation has threatened to kill him if any of the accused are sentenced to death.
Mrs. Beihl wrote to Pope Paul asking for his intercession to help bring about her husband's release, and a communique by the Papal Nunciature in Madrid was published on Saturday. It said: "All men of goodwill await this act of justice and of real Christian feeling which would be a prac
tical answer to the appeal for peace which the Pope only re. cently addressed to us.
The Pope has also appealed for clemency fur the Basques.
The prisoners themselves look part in the wave of demonstrations sweeping Spain. On the final day of the hearing one of them, about to take the witness stand, suddenly lunged at the judges, while the other defendants began fighting with police and singing nationalist
Earlier, a group of Basque students went on hunger strike, locking themselves in a Pam plona church after a demonstration which clashed with police. In Madrid another large group also attempted to stage a church sit-in, but was driven out by police. In Barcelona nearly 2,000 workers and students marched through the
city centre chanting antiFranco slogans. They clashed with police, overturned cars and smashed bank windows.
There were other demonstrations, including those in Saragossa and Valladolid. The police, acting in the state of emergency, arrested 200 people in San Sebastian, including 40 employees of the Bank of Vizcaya who stood at their desks in silent homage to a young man killed in a clash with civil guards.
The Spanish Government is thought to be split by the home and international pressures built up by the affair but while the tribunal was deliberating it was impossible to judge whether the moderates or those whose attitude was hardening against foreign intervention, were in the ascendancy..