Two army officers involved in the Desuung case submitted their rebuttal in the Supreme Court on January 7 after the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) appealed against the High Court’s decision that acquitted them.

ACC appealed to the Supreme Court seeking the court’s interpretation of whether adjustment could be considered embezzlement.

In a hearing that lasted close to two hours yesterday, one of the defendants, Lt. Ugyen Dorji questioned the quality of ACC’s investigation.

He claimed that ACC dropped numerous charges against him, which were charged in lower court because the charges were on trial and error basis. “I don’t understand how they can submit charges and later withdraw it.”

He said that ACC has charged him of embezzling more than Nu 152,000 from the funds meant for the training of 16th Desuung training at the Tencholing Military Training Centre (MTC) in August, 2015 despite the High Court acquitting him of any wrongdoing.

“The ACC had frozen my bank and e-mail accounts but they did not produce any evidence in court to prove the charges,” he said.

Lt. Ugyen Dorji questioned the intent of ACC for appealing in selected cases and dropping two cases that the High Court had acquitted.

The ACC dropped cases against two officers while appealing against the High Court’s judgment, which acquitted 11 officers and seven non-commissioned officers and reduced sentences for four officers and two NCOs.

The commission officials stated that they did not appeal against the judgment rendered to the two officials, as there was no corroborating evidence.

The ACC had submitted that the administrative officers, who were charged for embezzlement had not sent their bills to the Army headquarters for verification and approval.

Lt Colonel Ugyen Norbu argued that there were no orders from the headquarter to follow such a procedure. “There was not even a standard operating procedure in place which was the fault of the superiors at the headquarter and the MTC,” he said.

He said that the two lower courts had not summoned the superiors for cross-examination despite his repeated requests.

Ugyen Norbu and Ugyen Dorji said that ACC’s charges that the administrative officers had violated the finance ministry’s notification prohibiting imported drinks on occasions doesn’t apply to the Desuung training programme, as it was not an ordinary programme and that they had specific orders to provide the best of service and hospitality to the trainees.

Ugyen Norbu said that ACC’s evidence was not submitted at the lower courts and requested the Supreme Court not to entertain it since it is not allowed as per the Evidence Act.

The defendants said that the purchases of some of the goods were made under pressing and emergency needs.

“In the army, it is not possible to question the superior’s command and disobedience could mean consequences as per the Army Act,” said one of the defendants.

The defendants submitted that the Supreme Court uphold the High Court’s judgment that acquitted them and also reinstate them into the Army.

The High Court’s judgments did not mention anything about the reinstatement.

The hearing for the closing arguments of the case for Ugyen Dorji was scheduled for February 1 and for Ugyen Norbu was January 30.

Tshering Palden