During the two hour long evidence hearing at Bench I of the High Court on the embezzlement of DeSuung training fund on April 2, Major Kinga Norbu claimed that he was not even involved in several cases where he was convicted.

Major Kinga Norbu is convicted of having embezzled in two instances – the Pel Dechog Khorlo Wang (blessing) in Punakha and the 18th batch DeSuung training at the military training centre in Wangdue. The military court convicted him on December 19 last year for embezzling more than Nu 1.1M from the two events.

During the wang in Punakha, he was convicted of having embezzled more than Nu 580,000 by inflating bills from four shops including a meat vendor and a bakery. He claimed that he did not deal with the shopkeepers and the charges were false.

“I was at the event the whole time and my assistant, Peljab Wangchuk dealt with the shopkeepers throughout,” he said. “Only they would be in a position to justify the charges.”

He alleged that the military court and prosecutors worked together during the judicial investigation and submitted copies of SMS texts. He said evidence for the allegations against him were the shopkeepers’ statements to the Anti-Corruption Commission, which were given under duress. He said, “Besides those, there was no corroborating evidence of how I embezzled.”

But prosecutors argued that the burden of proof shifts on Major Kinga Norbu and his assistant, Peljab Wangchuk as they admitted to ACC voluntarily about making adjustments in the bills.

Major Kinga Norbu submitted copies of two judgments where adjustments to bills under urgent circumstances were not ruled as illegal by courts.

Prosecutors submitted copies of the statements of the duo and shopkeepers, bills, and stock registers to prove the charges.

Major Kinga Norbu submitted copies of menu countersigned by his superiors, bills of remaining ration returned to shops and tax receipts. He challenged whether the statements that the shopkeepers submitted under duress could be considered as evidence.

Prosecutors said that the litigants and shopkeepers had changed their statements in the lower court from what was submitted to ACC. “If their statements to ACC were false then the court should penalise them for perjury,” Nima Tshering, one of the two prosecutors said.

Nima Tshering said that the cheques for both the events were issued to Major Kinga Norbu and that he could not escape accountability. He said the sections in the ACC Act hold him accountable.

Major Kinga Norbu submitted a medical report of one of the shopkeepers, Karna Bdr Kharka, to show he was mentally unsound during which the ACC took his statements.

He submitted comparative statements of expenditures to show that the expenses incurred during his time were low compared to those programmes acquitted of misuse. He said that the cost of meal per person was Nu 186 for the 18th batch for 185 heads.

The Office of the Attorney General, he said, should prosecute those like them and not the RBA prosecutors.

Peljab Wangchuk, who was also convicted in the same case, requested the court to investigate and take account of the adjustment bills.

The court will next hold a cross-examination hearing between the shopkeepers, officials from the ACC, and the litigants.

Tshering Palden