Defendant requests court to cross examine MTC commandant

Prosecutors from the Royal Bhutan Army and defendant Lt. Colonel Ugyen Norbu presented their evidence of the fund embezzlement case to the High Court’s (HC) bench III yesterday.

Lt. Colonel Ugyen Norbu presented copies of receipts and records of the accounts.

He said that the court should summon the commandant for cross-examination as most of the things were carried under his command.

He maintained that he only adjusted the bills and had not intentionally embezzled the funds.

He also claimed that the problem was an officially induced error because of lack of a proper system.

He cited section 94 of the Penal Code of Bhutan 2011 which states, “A defendant shall have the defence of justification when a public official charged with responsibility led the defendant to believe that the defendant’s conduct was lawful.”He said that he believed that what he was doing was correct as per the orders that were given to him and the norms in place.

The defendant claimed that he had maintained records of receipt of goods and also handwritten receipts, which were not accepted by the lower court.

He said that the Tencholing military training centre commandant handed out soelra worth Nu 40,900 to dancers including army officer wives, their children and new army recruits on the DeSuups’ passing out parade function.

But the prosecutors said the figure was only Nu 22,000.

While Ugyen Norbu said that he had procured Nu 10,000 worth of hornet, he could not produce a receipt for Nu 7,500. He said even the mobile number does not work anymore.

The two RBA junior lawyers flipped rapidly as the defendant substantiated his evidence, and wrote on notepads, handing out notes to Captain Kinga Tenzin who listened intently.

Army lawyers said that the notes Lt. Col Ugyen Norbu kept in notepads could not be accepted in the lower court as they were not submitted to and approved by the army headquarter.

“These records neither have revenue stamps nor meet the requirements to be considered as valid documents,” one of the lawyers told the court.

“If adjustments were made for smoked fish, drinks, and other items, then the defendant has to show in which bill he had adjusted.”

Captain Kinga Tenzin asked the court to investigate further on the pieces of evidence submitted by the defendant.

The prosecutors said that the defendant’s pieces of evidence were not considered at the lower court the reasons for which the court mentioned in its judgment.

The hearing lasted about two hours as the Justices went over every piece of the evidence from the two parties and heard them patiently, frequently interjecting to seek clarifications from the two parties.

The RBA lawyers submitted their evidence to support their allegations that Lt. Colonel Ugyen Norbu, while serving as the administrative officer for 19th DeSuung training, incurred a shortage of Nu 288,734.

ACC found a shortage of more than Nu 408,000, which was later reduced to Nu 288,734 by the army court.

Tshering Palden

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