The High Court’s bench one sentenced two men, including a non-Bhutanese, to life imprisonment in relation to a murder of a 24-year-old Bhutanese man in Hasimara, India in April 2017.

Four other men involved in the case were given prison terms ranging between four and 15 years.

The Office of the Attorney General charged the six men, three Bhutanese and three non-Bhutanese, for murder, theft and illegal possession of cannabis and its derivatives.

Nima Karma Sherpa, 19, from Rangthangling in Tsirang and John Rai, 22, from Siliguri had asked the deceased, Tshering Dorji, 26, Ketagna, Bongo in Chukha to fetch rice bags from Kalchini in his bolero pickup truck. The two murdered Tshering Dorji in Madu forest on the way near Hasimara on April 24.

According to the judgment, Nima Karma Sherpa asked the deceased to stop and smoke some cannabis. Nima Karma Sherpa struck the deceased with a knife (khukuri) on his head. When he stood in shock, John Rai stabbed him with his Rambo knife repeatedly.

The court stated that when planning the murder, Nima Karma Sherpa planned to distribute the income from selling the bolero among them. 

The court also sentenced him for stealing a laptop from his uncle’s house and ordered the laptop to be returned to the owner.

The court ordered Nima Karma Sherpa and John Rai to pay Nu 246,437 each to the parents of the deceased for funeral rites within a month of the judgment.

The court found that a 28-year-old Kunzang from Getana in Chukha planned the murder after the deceased refused to repay the Nu 10,000 he borrowed from Kunzang. Kunzang claimed that when he asked for the money, the deceased abused him.  He then went to Jaigaon and met John Rai, Parmesh Biswa and Nima Karma Sherpa and made the murder plan.

Kunzang told the court that he had admitted to the crime to police because of excessive torture. However, five accomplices’ statements to police said that he planned and solicited the murder. Therefore, he was sentenced to nine years in prison.

The Penal Code states that a defendant shall be guilty of the offence of solicitation to commit a crime if the defendant purposely or knowingly solicits, requests, commands, or causes another person to commit a crime.

Parmesh Bishwa was sentenced to nine years in prison for soliciting to take the deceased to Kalchini and distribute the amount after selling the bolero.

Another accomplice, Binod Lama, was sentenced to 15 years in prison. He had travelled with the two murderers from Jaigaon to the crime scene. On the way, they stopped near his house to get khukuri, which Nima Karma Sherpa used to strike the deceased on the head.

The penal code states that a defendant shall be guilty of the offence of criminal conspiracy to commit a crime if the defendant agrees with another person or persons that they or one or more of them will engage in a conduct that constitutes a crime.

The defendant who is guilty of the offence of criminal attempt, solicitation, or criminal conspiracy shall be liable to third degree felony, if the offence is of first and second degree felony or half the penalty awarded to the person, who had committed the crime, if the offence is of third degree felony, fourth degree felony, misdemeanour or petty misdemeanour.

Shiv Kumar Jain from Gelephu was hand a four-year term in prison. He gave Nu 5,000 to the main culprits who had fled to Nepal after committing the crime. He was found guilty of helping the duo to escape arrest and delay prosecution. 

Police also found 12.5 grams of cannabis on him when he was arrested at near Rinchending in Phuentsholing in May 2017.

Tshering Palden