The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) said that the High Court judgment acquitting Royal Bhutan Army Major Sigay Tshewang and a non-commissioned officer, Pelpon Nima Gyeltshen, whom the RBA court found guilty of embezzling DeSuung training funds in 2013 was erroneous.

The High Court’s bench three on August 2 acquitted the two men in their judgment which was completely different from the one issued by the military court last year.

ACC issued a statement saying that the court had erred on three points.

The statement stated that ACC after reviewing the High Court judgment on the DeSuung Training Fund embezzlement case of Major Sigay Tshewang and RBA found that the acceptance of the Major Sigay Tshewang’s diary as evidence by the High Court was not appropriate.

“The High Court did not consider the ground for rejection of the diary as evidence by the trial court. The diary was not admitted as evidence by the trial court as it had sufficient evidence that the said diary was prepared during the trial period,” the statement stated.

He said that the same was supported by the confessions made by some of the vendors and other affiliates of having signed in the diary upon the repeated request made by the accused. Moreover, Major Sigay Tshewang’s statement to the ACC stated that he had destroyed the diary during his transfer from Samtse to Thimphu.

“The acceptance of the diary, which contained only a few pages as we learnt, as evidence by the High Court has greatly impacted on the case resulting in the miscarriage of justice,” the release from ACC stated.

The High Court has not considered the statements holistically, the commission stated.

Upon review of the court findings, the ACC also established that the High Court has taken into account only certain parts of the statement, which is in favour of Major Sigay Tshewang and did not take into consideration the statement holistically.

“If the Court of Appeal had used the statements of accused given to the ACC to aid in rendering the judgment then the integrity of using it correctly is expected,” ACC commissioner Jamtsho said.

It became evident to the ACC that the judgment was prepared in a way to suit the accused based on the fact that the statements provided by the vendors to the commission on the advances received by them were not quoted appropriately.

“The High Court has only considered that part of the statement, which favoured the accused,” the statement stated.

It was also observed that some of the pertinent words used in the statements provided to the commission were left out, conveying a wrong message and resulting in the acquittal of the accused.

Upon the request made by the prosecution, ACC officials participated in the cross-examinations of the individuals of the DeSuung cases in the Bench one and Bench two.

Despite the same request made by the prosecution, Bench three did not give due consideration for cross-examination for the case, of Major Sigay Tshewang vs RBA, the ACC stated.

“Although cross-examination may not be legally required, but based on ACC’s experiences of cross-examination by Bench I and II, it provides a perfect platform for the prosecution and investigation team to explain and clarify the issues under contention appropriately to the court.”

“Considering the above observations, the commission strongly believes that there are sufficient grounds for appeal,” the release stated.

The RBA prosecutors have until August 16 to appeal against the judgment to the larger bench of the High Court.

Tshering Palden