A tense day at the trial of Laura Borràs at the High Court of Catalonia (TSJC). If in the morning the testimony by the person in charge of management control for the Institute of Catalan Letters (ILC), Assumpta Pagespetit, raised the temperature by directly criticising Borràs's handling of the contracts written for the also-accused Isaías Herrero; in the afternoon the statements of the police officers responsible for the searches caused a new conflict between the president of the court, Jesús María Barrientos, and the defence lawyer Gonzalo Boye.
The lawyer carried out a cross-examination of the Mossos police officers, attempting to shed light on the matter of whether the chain of custody of the evidence was broken, while the prosecutor Teresa Duerto devoted herself thoroughly to dismantling any shadow of doubt about this topic. Boye also wanted to specify how Borràs, despite holding the partially-protected status accorded to MPs, came to be included in the investigation that had been launched against Herrero for counterfeiting money and document falsification. The forceful questions of the lawyer in the face of the doubts of one of the officers caused different calls to order to be directed at the lawyer by the presiding judge.
Boye confronts Barrientos
"I think we are entering the same dynamic as yesterday when we were denied the right to interrogate. We are the only defence that is questioning and it is making it impossible for us to interrogate," said Boye. Barrientos replied that surely this "has to do with the way you interrogate". "Or with the way you have positioned yourself previously", replied the lawyer, who already yesterday accused the judge of impartiality.
Nevertheless, the tension was contained. In fact, in the course of the very long afternoon session, the lawyer had no problem even recognizing the skill of the judge, who managed to "unblock" one of the interrogations. But the criticisms erupted again in the evening with the questioning of the penultimate witness. "Once again your honour cuts us off at the key moment. Leave us alone or pass judgment!" Boye exclaimed in response to a new interruption by Barrientos.
A total of nine Mossos officers were summoned to court. All of them took part in the split contracts case, which was launched with an investigation against Herrero, beginning with a case of forgery of fake banknotes, until the name of the speaker of the Catalan Parliament emerged in the process. Borràs was quoted in an email in which the accused IT expert explained that he had carried out some "tricks" with the invoicing of the contracts with the Institute of Catalan Letters, as recalled by the first officer who testified.
Boye focused his questions on how the information was extracted from Herrero's computers, if the tool used could manipulate the extracted information, and how the speaker of Parliament was investigated. During the statements, one of the police officers acknowledged that they searched for the names "Laura Borràs" and "Borràs" when they searched Herrero's emails, even though the mandatory authorization to investigate her had not been requested.
A key witness
Already in the morning, Borràs's defence had caused the tension to rise in the TSJC chamber. This was in relation to the testimony of the Institute of Catalan Letters's management controller, Assumpta Pagespetit, who asserted that she expressed her reluctance to Borràs about the way in which Isaías Herrero's projects were contracted; she explained that she warned Borràs that it had to be done another way, through a tender; and that everyone in the ILC knew that all the work had been assigned to Isaías Herrero. "I didn't like what was happening," insisted the employee, who repeatedly pointed out the discrepancy between Borràs's actions and the ministry's instructions on how contracts should be drawn up.
The witness's declaration then flared up when it was the defence's turn to ask questions. The lawyer Isabel Elbal opened the questioning by asking if the law requires the contracting to be done as she claims and the witness admitted that no, that it was a recommendation from the ministry. However, the employee reiterated her accusations about the Herrero contracts to the point that Elbal has asked her why she did not give so many details when she testified before the Civil Guard. "Maybe I restrained myself and was more careful not to add more fuel to the fire," she replied.
The lawyer had put the witness in a corner, but she did not flinch. She went so far as to accuse Elbal of twisting what she had said, and answered her questions with new questions. "I ask the questions", she was cut off by the lawyer. Before leaving, Elbal asked the witness if, before coming to the courtroom, she had met with anyone related to this trial. "I come from my house with my son," replied the employee, who then left the chamber huffing and puffing.
During the afternoon session, Boye tried to plug the cracks opened up by Pagespetit's sharp testimony, and asked the policemen as they testified if any of them had received any complaint from this official on any irregularities at the ILC. None of them, however, had evidence of any complaint made by this witness.