A defendant in the on-going desuung case, which the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) appealed to the Supreme Court in December last year, accused the commission of failing to investigate the case properly.
Lt. Colonel Rinzin Yeshey, who the ACC charged of embezzling more than Nu 889,000 and military court sentenced to four years and six months in prison but the High Court’s bench III acquitted for lack of corroborating evidences, submitted that he adjusted the fund to conduct the fifth and 10th batch of desuung programme successfully but did not embezzle any fund.
He alleged that ACC has been providing differing amounts as charges against him, which was a result of an incomplete investigation.
He submitted that the ACC in the lower court charged him of embezzling Nu 262,165 from M/S Lemo Tshongkhang, then changed it to Nu 258,925 when the case was appealed to HC.
The defendant also accused the commission of providing wrong evidences. “They even considered my covering letter as a final statement.”
He said there was no way an administrative officer could embezzle, as everything happened under the supervision of the commandant. “We adjusted because of the pressing and emergency needs.”
Lt. Colonel Rinzin Yeshey also alleged that all charges ACC made are based on assumption and do not have any corroborative evidence. “They did not even take into account the TDS we paid and ration balance.”
He submitted a comparative expenditure of the fifth and 10th batch programme with programmes of similar time-frame after the case surfaced and a standard operating procedure (SOP) was framed and implemented.
Explaining in detail how the adjustments were made, he said the ACC should not use the finance ministry’s order that prohibits serving imported alcohols during government functions in Desuung, as it is a different programme.
He said that if ACC had conducted a thorough investigation and studied if they really adjusted or embezzled, the problem would not have surfaced. “The investigating officials never understood the reality of how the programme was conducted but was bent to make everyone guilty.”
He said that the ACC failed to understand that the desuung administrative officers are soldiers who follow orders and not contractors. “Disobedience of order is a crime for us and ACC should have understood our system.”
Meanwhile, the defendant also questioned if ACC has the legal standing to prosecute the case, as they are the investigating agency.
“This case is different from the Gyalpoizhing case where the state prosecutor, Office of the Attorney General, did not prosecute the case. In this case, the RBA prosecutors prosecuted the case and HC acquitted me,” he said.
He said that while it is the SC’s discretion to allow ACC to prosecute the case, he is worried if ACC respects the country’s law. “HC’s larger bench clearly stated that it is unconstitutional.”
Lt. Colonel Rinzin Yeshey also said ACC contends that it is aggrieved by the HC verdict and seeks to appeal on the ground that it should not be left to the mercy of the prosecution. “ACC must now have the decency and exercise responsibility to respect the decision of the prosecution office it appointed.”
He also alleged that ACC tends to be irresponsible and should not have used the RBA prosecutors if it had no intention to respect their performance.
The defendants also questioned if ACC is going to ask the SC to uphold the judgment for the two officers and a non-commissioned officer (NCO), who they left without appealing since the commission is asking SC to uphold the military court judgment.
“The two officers and the NCO were also convicted by the lower court but the ACC did not appeal against their judgment,” he said. “Does this mean the ACC is not seeking justice but dropping cases based on relations.”
While the SC ruled that the defendant and the plaintiff should not discuss the locus standisince the court has already registered the case, ACC officials submitted the court should define if it is embezzlement or adjustment.
An official, Sonam Wangdi, said their amount would be based on evidence. “We would consider the balance ration during the closing statement on January 30.”
Tshering Palden and Tashi Dema