Within three days, 68 were sentenced for misdemeanor and seven acquitted
Verdict: The Phuentsholing dungkhag court yesterday sentenced five immigration officials to a non-compoundable prison term of three years in the ongoing immigration fraud case judgments.
The third day of the hearing saw 14 judgments, out of which four were acquitted, while another five were sentenced to prison term ranging from a year to 16 months.
Data manager Karma Tshering, immigration inspector Sonam Jamtsho and assistant immigration inspectors Thuktenla, Kunzang Thinely and Sangay Tenzin were convicted for “tampering of public documents.” The officials had tampered information in the immigration system and established bogus receipts to aid expatriate labourers, whose work permits had expired, pay less penalty.
The verdict stated that the defendants by faking the receipts had undervalued the penalty amount that the expatriates were supposed to pay. For instance, they tampered the expired work permits and put fake receipts and removed the expired penalty from the immigration system. They received a bribe of Nu 2,000 – Nu 10,000 for waiving off penalties.
With yesterday’s four, the court has acquitted seven defendants to date. Three were acquitted on August 25. The proprietor of M/s Norzang recruitment agent, Kipchu; the proprietor of M/s Staples and Jattu Wood Industry; Tandin Bidha and immigration office’s security guard Pema Tshering were acquitted for lack of strong evidences from the OAG.
The four defendants who were acquitted yesterday were proprietor of Zamling FWRA Tandin Dorji; Phub Dorji of Jawab FWRA, Sushil Kumar Machinda and immigration officer Sonam Dorji.
The dungkhag court has to date issued verdicts to 75 defendants. Most defendants have received prison sentences ranging from 10 to 17 months.
The defendants include staff of Foreign Workers Recruitment Agencies (FWRA), immigration officials, taxi drivers, police personnel, and construction companies categorised as private individuals.
There will be eight more hearings today. The OAG charged a total of 83 defendants, including 30 immigration officials for their involvement in bribery and illegal entry and exit of foreign workers in 2013 and 2014.
By Rajesh Rai, Phuentsholing