The suspended speaker of the Catalan Parliament, Laura Borràs, has decided to request the recusal of the president of the High Court of Catalonia (TSJC), Jesús María Barrientos, in her trial for alleged contractual irregularities when she headed the Institute of Catalan Letters (ILC), as reported by La Vanguardia. Barrientos is also the spokesperson judge for the case. The TSJC president has already been successfully challenged in the trial of the Catalan Parliament's 2019 Bureau, presided over by Roger Torrent, and this Tuesday the Spanish Supreme Court ordered a repeat of the trial of the 2017 Bureau because of the lack of impartiality of Barrientos and another judge. This Monday, November 14th, it was announced that Barrientos would be the speaker in the trial of the suspended parliamentary speaker, who will also be tried by judges Fernando Lacaba and María Jesús Manzano. The functions of the spokesperson judge are to study the case and present a draft of the sentence to his colleagues.
The case of the 2017 Bureau
Earlier this week, the Supreme Court ordered the TSJC to repeat the trial against the 2017 Parliament Bureau due to the lack of impartiality of Barrientos, presiding judge, and Ramos, spokesperson for the sentence. The court had convicted four pro-independence MPs - Lluís Corominas, Anna Simó, Ramona Barrufet and Lluís Guinó - for disobedience after having proceeded with parliamentary initiatives related to the Catalan independence process, that concluded with the October 1st referendum. The Supreme Court annulled the sentences against the four because it considered the defendants' right to an impartial court had been violated, since two of the judges had in previous resolutions taken an explicit position on issues that constituted the essential object of this trial.
The Borràs case
Borràs, who is also the president of the pro-independence party Together for Catalonia (Junts), is awaiting trial for alleged offences of abuse of authority and falsification of a document in order to split contracts for IT work at the ILC, which she directed until 2018, supposedly so that she could award them to a friend, a case that led to her suspension from her position as speaker of the house. The public prosecutor is demanding a 6-year prison sentence and a 21-year ban on holding public office for Borràs, who will sit on the bench next to two others: her friend Isaías H., who was awarded the contracts, and faces the same penalty, and Andreu P., who allegedly prepared invoices that allowed the irregularities to be hidden and faces a possible three-year jail sentence and 10-year ban from office.