One of the accused, Lt. Colonel Rinzin Yeshey submitted to the High Court’s bench III yesterday that many people, who heard about adjustment in the DeSuung case perceived adjustment as embezzlement. But, it was not so, he said.
He was sentenced to four years and six months in prison by the Lungtenphug military court. He was accused of embezzling while serving as an administrative officer for the fifth and 10th batch of the programme.
Explaining what adjustment meant, the officer pointed out that it meant including the expenses incurred in procuring restricted items, including alcohol and hornet and cash prizes in food and fruit items.
Lt. Colonel Rinzin Yeshey stressed that he had not embezzled a single Ngultrum from the fund or the adjustment. “I am a soldier who swore to serve the country with dedication and I never had the intention to embezzle the fund.”
He claimed that restricted items and cash prizes are adjusted with edibles including fruits, vegetables, meat and groceries. “Groceries and other items bought on ad hoc basis without bills are also adjusted.”
Since the restricted items were served from the first to the fourth batch, he said he could not stop it. “I am a soldier and I follow orders.”
He also said that the passing out parade (PoP) for 10th batch was done in Thimphu and the desuups were in Thimphu for about a week. “Although the shopping was done in Thimphu, it was adjusted with bills from a vendor in Wangduephodrang.”
If there was a standard operating procedure (SOP) in place, it could have been clear on what could be adjusted and what should not be.
The officer also said that the lower court convicted him based on the charges framed by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC). “It was not proven beyond reasonable doubt, as the only evidence is the assumptions witnesses’ submitted. Some vendors do not even know the names of the officers, as they supplied for all batches of the programme.”
Contradicting to what was mentioned in the lower court’s judgment, which stated that he failed to explain to ACC despite providing time, he said that ACC never asked them for an explanation nor gave them the opportunity to justify. “ACC only questioned me about adjustment but did not ask for evidence.”
Lt. Colonel Rinzin Yeshey said he could not go and provide the explanation and evidence to ACC then, as it was not accessible. “ACC officials said they would call us if needed but never called.”
He requested the court to investigate the matters, acquit and reinstate him.
A non-commissioned officer (NCO), Zoepa, who was convicted for taking Nu 100,000 from a meat vendor, submitted that he had not taken any money.
He claimed that he and the vendor submitted before the lower court, both in written and verbally, that he never took the money. “The vendor submitted that his statement to ACC was taken under duress.”
Meanwhile, the court stated that with only two prosecutors from the Royal Bhutan Army (RBA), the litigants have to bear with the delayed schedule, as the three benches of the HC have to schedule the hearings based on the availability of the prosecutors.