Catalan High Court case takes over case against Borràs
Jordi Segui will be the magistrate in charge of investigating the Institut de les Lletres Catalanes case
BarcelonaCatalonia's High Court has officially taken over case that affects Parliament's Speaker, Laura Borràs. This Thursday the court has issued a statement explaining that it has declared itself competent to investigate the case, which investigates Borràs's for having allegedly fractioned public procurement contracts during her time at the helm of the Institut de les Lletres Catalanes. To do so, the High Court has appointed magistrate Jordi Seguí Puntas, who will be in charge of investigating the case, which began in a court of instruction and then went on to the Supreme Court when Borràs was an MP in Madrid.
According to the statement by the Catalan High Court, Seguí will follow preliminary proceedings that the Supreme Court had already initiated on the alleged crimes of corrupt practice, fraud to the administration, embezzlement of public funds and forgery.
This move had been foreseen: once Borràs had left her seat in the Spanish Parliament for the Catalan Parliament, the next step would be the case moving to Catalonia too. In fact, the Supreme Court had already announced it beforehand. Up until now the magistrate in charge of the case, Eduardo Porres, had already taken some steps: he had asked borràs to give a statement last summer, but the current Speaker refused to do so. Borràs considers that her case is a "political persecution" and that the procedure has not complied with all the guarantees set by law.
Ripples in Parliament
The case is currently in the investigation phase and Borràs has not yet been prosecuted and has not yet been brought to trial. Thus, she will be able to exercise her current responsibilities as before. However, if the case progresses, it may have direct effects on her speakership, since in some cases the Parliament's rules provide for the suspension of parliamentarians.
Specifically, Article 25.4 of the rules of procedure provides that if there is an indictment and opening of oral proceedings for alleged crimes of corruption, the bureau will have to agree to the suspension of the rights and duties of the affected parliamentarian. In case of doubts about the crimes, an opinion from the commission of the Statute of the Deputy is requested.
Borràs has staunchly defended that her case was not linked to corruption and that she is a target of the Spanish st Borràs has staunchly defended that her case is not linked to corruption, but rather that she has become a target for the Spanish state's lawfare campaign. Even so, the treatment of her case will depend on the members of the parliamentary bureau and, ultimately, on the Statute of the Deputy: they will have to determine, as the regulation says, whether the crimes she is accused of count as corruption and, in consequence, whether she will have to leave her post. The decision will be in the hands of pro-independence parties
In an interview in ARA, Borràs was in favour of reforming the Parliament's regulations to eliminate the possibility of suspending deputies without a firm sentence. "The presumption of innocence is a fundamental right," she said. So far, however, at least the CUP, key to pro-independence majority, has already said it will not back the initiative. In fact, it was precisely CUP that in 2017 agreed to support the latest reform of the regulation driven by JxSí to expressly process the laws of disconnection in exchange for including the suspension of the deputies in cases linked to corruption before the trial.