Defendant claims military court’s judgement was based on assumptions

Claiming that the military court in Lungtengphug passed its judgment based on assumptions, Lt Colonel Karma Tharchin yesterday requested the High Court’s bench III to summon the vendors involved and investigate the case.

The military court, on December 19, convicted him of embezzling about Nu 1.3M while serving as the administrative officer for the 11th and 17th batch DeSuung programme. The 11th batch was for five weeks and the 17th for two weeks.

In his written statement, he submitted that he never embezzled the fund and does not accept the charges against him. A lawyer in the court represents him because of his health condition.

He also submitted that the fund allocated for the programme during his term as an administration officer was not only used for food but to meet all necessary expenses. “Since there was no standard operating procedure, I have followed the written order E-1.”

The officer submitted that the lower court convicted him based on the assumptions vendors’ gave to the Anti-Corruption Commission. “The prosecutors never proved beyond a reasonable doubt how I embezzled the fund.”

Like most appeals the defendants made to the various benches of the High Court, Lt Colonel Karma Tharchin also submitted that he made adjustments not for his personal benefit but to procure restricted items and give cash prizes. “The fund was also used to provide food for those involved in ‘move for health’, 30 to 40 male deSuups who went to patrol in the south when they were in Tencholing and rescue mission for an accident in Khelekha.”

He also alleged that the lower court did not take into account of the then commandant of Tencholing, Brigadier Thinley Tobgay’s statement, which stated that the DeSuung administrative officers were compelled to adjust some fund based on genuine reasons.

He also claimed the Royal Audit Authority and internal auditors did not reflect any memos against him after the programme was conducted.

The officer refuted ACC’s claims that he forged documents to deceive the commission. “The vendors at the lower court hearing submitted that it was their document.”

Lt Colonel Tharchin also requested the HC to investigate how the Royal Bhutan Army (RBA) violated the procedure by terminating and court-martialling the defendants without even waiting for the 10-days appeal period.

Meanwhile, a non-commissioned officer (NCO), Sonam Dendup, who was also implicated in the case, said the lower court convicted him although the vendor submitted that he was never paid the money. “In my 21 years of service, there is no record of any punishment against me because I abide by the rules but now I am convicted for no fault.”

He requested the court to investigate the case, acquit and reinstate him.

A prosecutor from RBA, Captain Kinga Tenzin, also requested the court to investigate the case thoroughly.

Tashi Dema

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