Read in Catalan

More irregularities. The lawyer Gonzalo Boye has today complained about the actions of the public prosecutors in the investigation of the suspended speaker of the Catalan Parliament, Laura Borràs, in the second session of the trial against her and two other defendants over her management of public cultural body the Institute of Catalan Letters (ILC) from 2013 to 2017, this Tuesday at the High Court of Catalonia (TSJC). Boye asserted that they feel "deprived of a defence" because of the new changes added to the indictment by the prosecutors "five years later". He also complained that the public prosecutors made certain demands in 2021, when the case was already being heard and which therefore are illegal and must be expelled as evidence. "It's very grave, and very scary as a citizen how the Justice ministry's administration works", declared the lawyer. The court - formed by judges Jesús Maria Barrientos, who will be spokesperson, Fernando Lacaba and María Jesús Manzano - has refused to suspend the hearing, although it has added that it will resolve the issues of rights violations in the next session. In addition, the court allowed Laura Borràs to testify last in the trial, as Boye requested as a measure to protect her rights..

The prosecutor's office seeks a 6-year jail sentence and a 21-year ban on holding public office for Borràs and her computer scientist friend, Isaías Herrero, to whom she entrusted the renewal of the Institute's website, which is considered a crime, because the contract was granted without a tender or competitive process, and divided into 18 small contracts, for a total amount reaching 309,000 euros. For ILC official Andreu Pujol, who presented a budget and paid Herrero from it, 3 years in prison are sought..

Deal with prosecutors

In the first session, Isabel Elbal, also part of Borràs's defence team, denounced that Herrero had made an agreement with the public prosecutors under which he would incriminate himself and accuse Borràs of ordering the budget to be processed in fragmented form. In return for this testimony, the prosecution would grant Herrero a reduced penalty.

Testimony by the accused

Next Monday, two of the three defendants will testify - an unusual formula. In this Tuesday's session, the president of the court, Jesús Maria Barrientos asked the parties what their position was on the request by Borràs to declare last in sequence. Prosecutor Assumpta Pujol rejects the proposition of allowing to Borràs testify at the end because her request "is not for the purposes of clarifying the truth". For her part, Marina Roig states that her client Isaías Herrero wants to testify on the first day of the trial and that she is not opposed to Borràs testifying at the end. Àlex Solà, Andreu Pujol's lawyer, did not oppose it either. The court, after deliberating in the same room, accepted that Borràs would testify last, in the last session, once the other two defendants, witnesses and experts have done so, and before the lawyers' final summing up.

Evidence accepted and rejected

In the session, the court also reported on items of evidence that it admitted and others that it rejected. Specifically, the TSJC accepted the prosecutors' request for four Mossos agents who searched Herrero's apartment and cloned the incriminating emails to declare as expert witnesses. Judge Barrientos has stated that "the prosecution would be unbalanced" if the agents could not be questioned about the chain of custody, which Borràs's defence maintains has not been respected. With regard to this prosecution evidence, Boye insisted that it must be removed from the trial, even though it is "harmless because it is useless and not relevant".

Former minister Puig won't testify

The president of the TSJC also once again ruled out testimony from exiled former Catalan minister Lluís Puig as a witness because he considers that there are already other witnesses, including other Catalan ministers of culture, such as Ferran Mascarell and Santi Vila, who can testify in court. Thus, on Monday, February 20th, the trial resumes.