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The court has been formed. The president of the High Court of Justice of Catalonia (TSJC), Jesús María Barrientos, will himself preside over and act as reporting judge (that is, he will write the sentence) in the trial of the acting speaker of the Catalan Parliament and president of the pro-independence Junts party, Laura Borràs, in the Institute of Catalan Letters (ILC) contracts case, as the press office of the TSJC reported this Monday. The court will also be formed by judges Fernando Lacaba and María Jesús Manzano. The judicial rules establish that the TSJC president must always preside over the trials of the Catalan chamber; but not as its reporting judge. The exception was in the recent trial of the 2019 Bureau of the Catalan Parliament, when Barrientos was successfully challenged by Josep Costa, on the grounds of having expressed partiality on the Catalan independence issue.

The court will now have to assess the evidence which the parties which to present, notably a critical technology expert for Borràs, and set the trial date. The defence lawyer of Borràs, Gonzalo Boye, or the lawyers of the other two defendants could request the recusal of Barrientos.

The chosen judges

In a resolution dated November 8th, a ministerial lawyer has advised that the court to try Borràs has been selected, with a judge from the appeals room of the TSJC, an option frequently chosen, and in this case it is judge Manzano. In addition to Barrientos, the third justice is Fernando Lacaba, who was president of the Girona Audience for several years, and then joined the civil and criminal court of the TSJC. The formation of the court was communicated to the prosecutor and the three defences, as any of them could present an appeals against its components.

The punishments demanded 

The public prosecutor who presented the indictment in the ILC case in July demanded that Laura Borràs be sentenced to 6 years in prison and a 21-year from holding public office for the crimes of document falsification and abuse of authority for her management as director of the public cultural institution between 2013 and 2017. Specifically, Borràs is accused of having awarded 18 minor contracts without a public tender, totalling more than 309,000 euros, regarding programming and maintenance of the Institution's web portal to her friend Isaías Herrero, for whom the prosecutor is also requesting the same length of prison sentence. In the end, Borràs is not accused of misuse of public funds, despite the fact that she was earlier accused of this crime, nor for administrative fraud. Defence lawyer Boye says that Borràs must be acquitted as there was no division of contracts, no punishable falsehoods, and no arbitrary decisions.

One of the first actions of the court, if its composition is not challenged, will be to analyze the documentation and evidence provided, as well as the witnesses requested for the trial. Borràs has asked that three former Catalan minister of culture testify as witnesses.