MADRID, Spain -- The leader of an attempted right-wing coup surrendered today and his civil guard followers freed 350 parliament deputies held hostage for 17 hours, ending a dramatic confrontation that scored a bloodless triumph for Spain's five-year-old democracy.
Crowds massed outside the besieged parliament building cheered the outcome, a personal victory for King Juan Carlos who has guided Spain from dictatorship to parliamentary rule following the death of Generalissimo Francisco Franco.
The monarch strongly opposed the coup attempt and the rebels failed to receive any significant support, even in the Basque country, torn by a wave of violence by separatist guerrilas.
The Francoist rebel leader, Army Lt. Col. Antonio Tejero Molina, decided to give up his bid for a return to military rule after a simultaneous rebellion planned in eastern Spain fizzled and Juan Carlos stood firm behind democracy. The monarch ordered in loyal troops to surround the parliament.
An attempt at a wider insurrection failed quickly when Gen. Jaime Milans del Bosch in Valencia declared a military government but then pulled his troops and tanks off the street.
Tejero Molina, told the deputies before being taken to civil guard headquarters. 'The only thing happening here is that I'm going to land 30 or 40 years in jail.'
With the smell of failure in the air, scores of fatigue-clad civil guards jumped out of first-floor windows and tried to flee. Others rebels ran out of the front door into the arms of officers who had surrounded the building throughout the tense night.
The rebels, most of them young, were taken in buses to a barracks.
Tejero himself was taken under arrest to civil guard headquarters despite his insistence on surrendering formally in the nearby town of El Pardo where Franco lived and in 1975 died.
The stocky, mustachioed officer had earlier permitted 15 women deputies to leave the parliament 'to let everyone know no one had been harmed.'
The deputies filed out of the Congress of Deputies row by row as parliament president Landelino Lavilla, who began the seizure with a rebel gun at his temple, quietly urged: 'Calm, calm.'
Landelino ordered the deputies to reassemble later in the day to continue the business of electing a prime minister to end a month-long leadership crisis.
Thousands of Spaniards crushed behind riot barriers outside the downtown parliament cheered, wept and applauded as the deputies filed out.
As word of the negotiated surrender boomed from hundreds of transistor radios in the crowd at Neptune Plaza, drivers honked horns. The masses on foot surged forward against police lines and had to be restrained by officers on horseback.
Manuel Clavero Arevalo, a former regional minister, said the hostage-taking was despicable but might strengthen democracy.
'The balance is positive,' he said, looking haggard but happy. 'Given the popular reaction against the rebels, our democratic institutions will come out of this strengthened.'
Tejero, a hardline anti-communist and sworn foe of Basque home rule, told army negotiators he would release his hostages on the condition he be permitted to surrender in the nearby town of El Pardo where his mentor, dictator Francisco Franco, lived and in 1975 died.
Tejero demanded that no photographers witness his departure from the parliament building. He insisted he alone be held responsible for the dramatic seizure Monday of 350 deputies meeting to elect a new prime minister to end a month-long government crisis.
The death knell for the coup attempt came when King Juan Carlos, the constitutional head of state of Spain's 5-year-old democracy, denounced the attempt to derail Spain's constitutional experiment. The army sent troops loyal to the monarch to surround the parliament building.
Earlier, sneering at government attempts to end the rebellion, Tejero said an army negotiator offered him a plane to leave Spain but he refused because, 'I get very dizzy on planes.' Twelve hours into the siege, he told a friend by phone he felt 'fresh as a daisy.'
The insurrection failed to spark any widespread support. There was no action in the Basque country, site of 114 of 128 political killings last year, or any other part of Spain. Prime Minister Adolfo Suarez, who has led Spain's government since the death of Franco in 1975, was seized along with his entire Cabinet as the 350 legislature were voting on Leopoldo Calvo Sotelo to replace Suarez as prime minister in an effort to end a month-old government crisis.