200 back suspended parliament speaker outside court as corruption trial begins

Laura Borràs faces up to six years for alleged irregular contracts

Suspended parliament speaker and president of pro-independence Junts party arrives at her corruption trial accompanied by former president Quim Torra and backed by around 200 people
Suspended parliament speaker and president of pro-independence Junts party arrives at her corruption trial accompanied by former president Quim Torra and backed by around 200 people / Gerard Escaich Folch
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

February 10, 2023 10:43 AM

February 10, 2023 07:41 PM

Friday marked the start of the corruption trial against the suspended parliament speaker and president of the pro-independence Junts party, Laura Borràs, in the Catalan High Court (TSJC). Politics heavily marked the beginning as around 200 people rallied on Friday morning in support of the politician in front of the courthouse.

The president of pro-independence Junts party faces up to six years in prison, accused of splitting contracts to avoid tenders during her time as the director of the Institute of Catalan Letters (ILC), a public body in charge of promoting Catalan literature, before she became parliament speaker in 2021.


Borràs could also be barred from office for 21 years and fined €144,000, as per the public prosecutor’s request, which was made public in July 2022, a few days before the parliament suspended her from her position in late July.

The trial is set to last until March 1, with the first day focused on the preliminary judgments. There will be a week gap until her cross-examination is expected to take place in the week starting on February 20. Overall, there will be seven different sessions during the trial.

Support from Junts and ANC

During the minutes previous to Borràs entering the High Court, several members of Junts, the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) civil-society group, and the Consell per la República, the body in favor of the independence led by former president Carles Puigdemont, backed the politician before stepping in the courthouse.

Some waved pro-independence flags, also known as 'estelada,' and chanted in favor of the suspended parliament speaker. However, those not on site were members of Esquerra Republicana and CUP, the two other major parties in favor of a Catalan republic. They claim this corruption trial is because of mala praxis and not regarding the independence push.

Before entering the court accompanied by her daughter and husband, someone threw printed €200 notes with the text "Laura Borràs, corrupt" written in Catalan.


Just after, Junts secretary-general addressed the media on-site saying he "politically backs" and showed all the support to the president of the political group. The pardoned politician imprisoned after being sentenced for his role in the 2017 independence referendum said that this case is another one where the "enemy's penal code will be applied." 

The second highest ranking member of ANC, Jordi Pesarrodona, who accompanied Borràs on the first day of the trial, also considered that the "Spanish judiciary system is not impartial" and that "only the judges in the Catalan republic" would give her a fair trial.

Deal with public prosecutor against Borràs

Laura Borràs was indicted on June 29, 2022 by the TSJC for supposedly favoring a friend in alleged irregular contracts in what should have been put to a public tender. 

Now, this friend, an IT professional, is currently negotiating a deal with the public prosecutor incriminating himself and the politician to avoid imprisonment. He faces six years in jail and a €72,000 fine.

Both are accused of administrative fraud, although the judge has also accused Borràs of an administrative breach of official duty, falsification of a commercial document, and misuse of public funds. However, the public prosecutor did not accuse Borràs of misuse of public funds as there are no documents certifying that the suspended parliament speaker paid an additional amount for the requested work.

Accused of splitting contracts to avoid tenders

Between March 2013 and February 2017, the ILC awarded, "through its director," 18 minor contracts related to its website, for a total value of €330,000, in which Borràs "intervened", "proposing and awarding the contract, approving the expenditure, certifying the execution of the service, issuing the corresponding invoice and finally authorizing the payment," according to the judge's decree published on March 14, 2022.

Of these contracts, six were awarded to Isaías Herrero, for a total of €112,500, and one to Andreu P.M., for €20,050. Both men are also charged. Six contracts were also awarded to Xarxa Integral for €101,035 and three to Freelance for €54,437, two groups Isaías Herrero was a member of.

The contracts amounted to a total of €330,000, of which the ILC paid out €309,000 in the end. 

Shortly after being appointed director of the ILC, Borràs introduced Isaías Herrero to the staff as head of the website. The two exchanged emails, according to the judge, about invoices and contracts, concluding that the same vendor could not file invoices for different items in the same year and that they, therefore, had to "knock on doors" to bill different names and to avoid exceeding the €18,000 maximum for minor contracts.

At the time, public contracts in Catalonia over €18,000 had to be put to tender. The court alleges that Borràs fraudulently split a larger payment into smaller contracts in order to be able to choose who would be awarded the work, and to avoid a public tender process.