Final day of the trial of Laura Borràs at the High Court of Catalonia (TSJC) for the alleged splitting of contracts while she was directing the Institute of Catalan Letters (ILC). The day of the final reports from lawyers on both sides and the last word from the accused has led to a new conflict between the leader of the Catalan politician's defence, Gonzalo Boye, and the presiding judge, Jesús María Barrientos. The lawyer, with an eye on possible differences between the three-person court, reiterated his accusations over the lack of partiality of Barrientos and the violation of his client's rights. All this as former Catalan president Quim Torra looked on, along with a wide representation of the Junts party leadership, who, on the last day of the trial, returned to the courtroom and joined the usual audience over the rest of the days: the Borràs family, her closest work team, the Catalan deputy Francesc de Dalmases, and a few legal interns.
The session opened with the announcement by the public prosecutor which confirmed the demand for 6 years' prison and a 21-year ban on holding public office for the president of Junts, while at the same time, she reduced the prison demands for the other defendants, Isaías Herrero and Andreu Pujol, to two years and one year respectively - meaning that, if found guilty, they are unlikely to enter prison - after they confessed the facts and incriminated Borràs. With a forceful, quick and direct allegation, which she barely interrupted to take a breath, the prosecutor Teresa Duerto re-asserted the accusations against Borràs, an alleged crime of abuse of authority in conjunction with document falsification, for having awarded 18 minor contracts to Herrero, between 2013 and 2017, to a total value of around 335,000 euros.
The prosecutor finds the body
Duerto rejected the critique from Borràs's defence about the uncertain custodial trail of the IT evidence or the accusation that a fishing investigation was mounted to see what could be hauled up against the speaker of the Catalan Parliament; she rebuffed the defence's expert reports and once again read the accusatory emails and messages. But, in addition, she incorporated a new piece of information about the disappearance of the web pages that the defence has always attributed to the Mossos search. "The portal was in the hands of a private individual [Isaías Herrero] who stopped paying for the server. Perhaps the ILC should ask for explanations, but not the Civil Guard or the Mossos d'Esquadra," she vented.
Boye, sitting right next to prosecutor Duerto, turned to her to observe her address. And this made the first spark fly with the president of the court. "I would ask you not to confront the prosecutor", the judge demanded, interrupting her speech. The lawyer ironically responded to the request by assuring that he did not know that the prosecutor could not be looked at and guaranteeing that he would look "to the front as usual". But the judge's reproach was noted.
After 12 noon, as the prosecutor was finishing her two-hour concluding report, the general secretary of Junts, Jordi Turull, the president of the party's parliamentary group, Albert Batet, and the former president of the National Council, Anna Erra, entered the chamber.
When to came to delivering his own conclusions, Boye attributed the case against Borràs to a judicial "A por ella" - "Let's go get her" a reference to the "Let's go get 'em", chant used by Spanish police and public before the 2017 Catalan referendum. But Boye also gave an unmitigated dressing-down to TSJC president Barrientos. He insisted on the lack of impartiality of the court, illustrated this with several examples - including that of having accused him, minutes before, of attempt to intimidate the prosecutor. "I didn't confront anyone. I turned to see the person who was talking", he reprimanded, denouncing the way he was called to order and reminding that it was the court's decision to seat him next to the prosecutor, for which he had demanded an explanation at the time. With his eyes on the possible differences between the members of the court, the lawyer did not fail to note his claim to appeal to European instances if the court does not opt for an acquittal.
Boye has described some of the prosecutor's conclusions as extra-terrestrial and flat earth-ist, but he devoted special attention to denying her assertions that Herrero was responsible for the disappearance of the ILC portal. "It did not disappear for lack of payment, it disappeared because someone wanted to make it disappear", exclaimed Boye, insisting that the website was removed at the same time as the search by the Mossos police and criticized that the prosecutor did not ask throughout the trial about this version when the Civil Guard and Mossos appeared. The lawyer ended his final report by adding a political accent to his defence, asserting that they were the only ones who had stepped up to defend the rule of law, before a collective that "is being persecuted for being a national minority".
However, the moment of the final clash between Boye and Barrientos was when Borràs was taking advantage of her right to make concluding remarks, and was reiterating the arguments of her defence lawyer, including the questioning of why the website had disappeared. Barrientos interrupted her to warn him that his lawyer had already presented the arguments of the defence and that this was not the purpose of the last word that was granted to her. Boye responded that the accused has the right to her turn and that the Constitutional Court has determined that this should not be prevented unless it is for a lack of respect. "She has the right to make use of this right, but it is not unlimited. It is not for a speech," warned the judge.
Borràs continued, citing Catalan women writers Capmany and Rodorera, as well as Martin Luther King, indifferent to the impatience of the judge, who jumped in again when she presented a more political allegation asserting that she will continue to work for "the independent Catalan republic no matter what the sentence" and that she would not add to the "defections" in pro-independence ranks. Barrientos halted her turn again, warned that she was straying from the objective of her right to speak and that she had three minutes left, provoking new protests from the defence lawyers that the right to the last word cannot be limited. "The use of the last word is not planned for demonstrations like the one she is making," insisted Barrientos, in the face of the protests of Elbal, who declared that she could speak for two days solid if she wanted to, and of Boye, who asserted that he would incorporate the judge's objection in "future procedural phases", referring to the words of the judge on the first day of the hearing.
The suspended parliamentary speaker still had the opportunity to make an allusion to the Objectively Identifiable Group, the phrase coined in the European Court of Justice's ruling on the possible misuse of a European Arrest Warrant against Carles Puigdemont. "That's why I'm here," she replied.