Case involves 99 choetens and two lhakhangs, among others 

The Mongar dzongkhag court conducted a rebuttal hearing on April 25 for 11 men and a minor alleged to have vandalised 99 choetens, two lhakhangs. They are also accused of two burglaries and an auto stripping charge.

In the miscellaneous hearing conducted on April 4, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) charged the 11 men and the minor, aged between 17 to 44, for violating section 351 of the Bhutan Penal Code, which is an offence against the Ku, Sung, Thukten or Zung.

The 11 men and the minor, who are in police custody, confessed to the crime.

Leki Khando, 34, from Silambi and Ugyen Tshewang, 33, from Thungdari in Drametse, confessed to vandalising 58 choetens from Mongar, Saling and Silambi from 2011 to 2016.

Leki Khando also confessed to have vandalised a Jangchub choeten at Tsakaling gewog along with a friend Jurmi Namgyel, 26, from Wengkhar.

OAG charged Leki Khando for vandalising 59 choetens.

Lhaten Dorji, 33, from Silambi and Gem Tshering, Karma Tshering, Tenzin Jamtsho and Pema Chogyel confessed to vandalising 24 choetens from 1997 to 2016 and attempting to vandalise four choetens in Silambi and Gongdue gewogs.

While Gem Tshering and Pema Chogyel have died, Karma Tshering and Tenzin Jamtsho are at large.

Tshering Dorji, 27, and his 17-year-old brother from Silambi gewog and Jurmi Namgyel confessed to vandalising five choetens from Tsakaling, Chali gewog and Phagidung village in Lhuentse.

Tshering Dorji and his under-aged brother confessed to vandalising three choetens from Saling gewog.

Rinchen Khando, 23, and his brother Tenzin Jamtso confessed to vandalsing two choetens  in  Silambi gewog.

In their rebuttal, Ugyen Dorji, 23, and Yeshi Dorji, 20, from Tsakaling confessed to vandalising one choeten in Tsakaling and two lhakhangs in Chali gewog.

The duo, in their statement to court, stated that they had vandalised the choetens and lhakhangs after Ugyen Dorji’s brother-in-law, Sherab Gyeltshen, 20, asked them to bring dzees and pearls.

Sherab Gyeltshen, in his rebuttal, confessed to having ordered for dzees and pearls, promising to give them money and bicycles.

A taxi driver, Sonam Dorji, 44, from Kanglung in Trashigang, confessed before court that Sherab Gyeltshen travelled in his taxi from Tsirang to get the dzees and pearls from Mongar. He submitted before court that he kept two coins as the fare from Sherub Gyeltshen.

Tashi Penjor, 23, and Ugyen Dorji from Tsakaling gewog submitted before the court that they vandalised a Jangchub Choeten in Tsakaling because of their desire for fast money and also because they were young and not aware of the consequences.

The OAG’s prosecutor said he will submit his rebuttal next week.

Tashi Phuntsho | Mongar