BY A SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
YOUTHS staged a sit-in in a Jesuit Fathers' Church in Madrid last week in protest against the forthcoming court martial of 16 Basques, including two priests charged with terrorism. Six of them face a possible death sentence, while the remaining ten could be jailed for an aggregate of 752 years.
The sit-in was only part of a wider protest. Nine-foot tall slogans scribbled on several San Sebastian walls said : "No to the court martial," and illegal tracts distributed all over the town urged students to stay away from schools and universities, and workers to strikes. In the
stage proi,7 town of Renteria, six miles from Madrid, the parish church was occupied by demonstrators who staged a 24hour sit-in.
The alleged terrorists, said to he members of the extremist Basque organisation fighting for home rule, also include two women. They are charged with crimes including murder, armed robbery, banditry and terrorism, as well as political crimes against the State.
The Jesuit church in Serrano Street. Madrid. almost in front of the U.S. Embassy, was occupied by young people, who hoped to force Madrid Archbishop Mgr. Casimiro Morcillo to take a stand about the court martial trial, to be held in Burgos later this month. The Archbishop promptly called the police, who surrounded the church.
The group refused to leave until they spoke to the Archbishop. A witness on the spot said the demonstrators planned an all night sit-in.
THREE DECADES They were eventually evicted, but the Archbishop apparently asked police not to detain anybody.
The court martial trial is likely to be the biggest legal ease brought in front of a military tribunal in Spain in the last three decades. According to some legal sources connected with the trial, the Spanish Government
itself differs about the ads isability of inflicting death sentences, and some Ministers are reported to be adamantly against any capital punishment; apparently to avoid any pretext to create martyrs.
In San Sebastian, a "Sacerdotal Brotherhood of St. Ignatius of Loyola," an organisation which was not mentioned in Spanish Catholic books, and which includes a very reduced number of Jesuit Fathers, distributed a long communiouti published by local newspapers and also by official press sources.
This strongly criticised other priests promoting prayers in their churches for the souls of the Burgos court martial defendants.
"They (the other priests) invade a political ground where they hose nothing to do, and impose the belief that the Burgos court martial should be condemned," the communiqué said. "This intervention by the priests is a very grave abuse."
Catholic sources in San Sebastian reacted strongly to the communique, describing the "Sacerdotal Brotherhood of St. Ignatius of Loyola" as "a group of a few priests on the Government's payroll."