Claiming that the military court in Lungtenphug passed the judgment without conducting his closing statement, Major Kinga Norbu yesterday requested the High Court to investigate the issue.
He alleged that there is a conflict of interest, as the military court and prosecutors work together. “There was no corroborating evidence of how I embezzled but I was convicted.”
He submitted that the lower court’s judgement was also rendered as if it was some child’s play. “It was full of errors and some officials convicted had to point out the mistakes, which the court officials then corrected.”
The military court convicted Major Kinga Norbu on December 19 for embezzling more than Nu 1.1M.
He, however, submitted to the court that he had not embezzled any amount but used the funds following orders of the wing commander in Tencholing.
Explaining the functioning of the armed forces, he said he did not have the authority to do anything at the DeSuung program independently. “Even to decide on a menu, we have to consult the superiors and it has their counter signs too.”
The officer submitted that the two wing commanders of Tencholing submitted differing statements to the court.
He explained that besides serving alcohol to the deSuups on occassions, the administrative officers had to serve the same to the director every night. “This was in practice from the first batch of deSuups.”
Major Kinga Norbu also submitted that the funds were adjusted to buy restricted items and alcohol and to pay cash prizes to entertainers. “I never decided the quantity of the items and the amount of prize but the commander. It was either the DeSuung director or commander who distributed for the prizes.”
He also said that it was the lack of standard operating procedure (SOP), which lead to the issue.
He cited a fire incident on the campus, where a store in-charge was held responsible and terminated. “I took accountability for it and said I was responsible but he was terminated. That was when we raised the need for a SOP.”
He claimed that although he and Lt. Colonel Ugyen Norbu, who led the inquiry team then, drafted SOP on the approval of the commander, it was not implemented.
He alleged that the investigating agency, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) never asked him to submit bills.
He also submitted mediacal reports of how a non commissioned officer (NCO) was mentally affected because of ACC and how another was not allowed to visit his sick son.
He also requested the court to order to reinstate their entitlements until the court proceedings are complete.
A NCO, Peljab Wangchuk, who was also convicted in the same case, requested the court to investigate and take account of the adjustment bills.
Peljab Wangchuk, who travelled from Wangduephodrang for the court hearing, said he lower court refused to take the bill adjustments he submitted into consideration.
Major Kinga Norbu alleged that whatever practice they followed is still practised in the training today.
Another officer, Major Jurmey, on his preliminary hearing at bench I also claimed that the budget for training has not declined after their issue surfaced. “It is even more.”
He countered the prosecutor’s claim that the administrative officers have the sole authority by stating that he followed orders.