Laura Borràs is increasingly alone and isolated in the trial that she faces this Friday for corruption. Isaías Herrero, the computer scientist who he allegedly benefited from freelance contracts while he presided over the Institució de les Letres Catalanes (ILC) finalizes an agreement with the Prosecutor’s Office, as EL PAÍS has learned from sources familiar with the agreement. Herrero, who was facing a request for six years in prison – the same as the former president of Parliament – will accept the facts of which the Prosecutor’s Office accuses him in exchange for a substantial reduction in the sentence. The computer scientist will explain that he followed Borràs’ instructions, a confession that leaves the leader of Junts in a very bad position in the case for the division of 18 contracts to be able to award them by hand to her friend and former collaborator of hers.
The silence of those investigated has presided over the judicial process for irregularities in the institution of the Generalitat that promotes literature in Catalan and that Borràs presided over between 2013 and 2017, before making the leap to the political front line. Last July, the Prosecutor’s Office made public its indictment, in which it requested six years in prison for Borràs and another six for Herrero for prevarication and falsehood. The request was unaffordable for the computer scientist due to his background. In December 2019, he was sentenced to five years in jail for drug trafficking. A new sentence dramatically increases the risk of ending up behind bars.
With the pact, Herrero returns to mark the biography of Borràs in a decisive way. The case against the leader of Junts per Catalunya arose as a result of the drug trafficking investigation of his former collaborator. The Mossos d’Esquadra intervened in telephone conversations and emails in which Herrero spoke of his relationship with Borràs, with whom he had had a professional relationship in the Hermeneia group (for literary studies research) and at the University of Barcelona. “I have a brown one, buff… Man of course, but I with Borràs, with the boss, I bill with the Cooperative, and I bill some trapis there,” he wrote in a message in 2017.
The investigation that followed made it possible to prove, especially through a chain of emails, that Borràs gave instructions to Herrero to present “comparsa” budgets to conceal who the real winner was or to simulate that there was competition between different offers. The contracts were divided illegally, which made it possible to award jobs worth 335,700 euros by hand. The Prosecutor’s Office believes that Borràs “abuses his functions” and “violates the principles of transparency and public” that govern public procurement.
Herrero’s silence, which could be read as fidelity to his boss, was broken completely a few months ago, when he presented his defense brief. Without pointing directly to Borràs, the text -which this newspaper has also accessed- makes it clear that he limited himself to working and, in terms of billing, he did what was asked of him. Herrero “followed the instructions given to him by the staff” and assures that if he billed “through cooperatives in the freelance sector” he did so “with full knowledge” of the Institution of Catalan Letters. The work, related to the agency’s website, was carried out “to the full satisfaction” of both parties.
The trial in the Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia (TSJC) and presided over by magistrate Jesús Barrientes, starts this Friday with the previous questions. Borràs has always denied the facts and has attributed the cause to political persecution. The lawyer Gonzalo Boye will defend him and will count as an expert, to question the validity of the computer material, Luis Enrique Hellín, a former member of Fuerza Nueva convicted of the kidnapping, torture and murder of the student Yolanda González in 1980. The trial will resume on February 20 with the interrogation of the accused. The third defendant, Andreu P., faces a request for three years in jail.
Emails, the key to the case
The emails are eloquent and show that Borràs took the initiative, and that Herrero even complains about the way of proceeding. “The truth is that it is strange and complicated for me to have to do this trip. I know what it is, but put yourself in my place, having to involve several people to make me invoices of 3k”, he told Borràs in February 2013. The response of the former president of the chamber is devastating: ” The budget has to be as if you were independent professionals (…) The question is to divide each one of the concepts so that it is clear that they are like parts that must be assembled together”.
You can follow EL PAÍS Catalunya at Facebook and Twitteror sign up here to receive our weekly newsletter