The lack of a DNA testing facility in the country compounds the problem

Almost two years after a 45-year-old man from Getana, Chukha was arrested for the alleged murder of a 60-year-old woman and her 16-year-old grandson in Kuengarabten, Trongsa, his family members continue to come to Thimphu.

This is because the investigating agency, the Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) is yet to receive the DNA test results from Kolkata, India.

The suspect’s brother, Nima, who was in Thimphu last week said it was his fourth visit to see RBP’s forensic officials. “I have called them several times.”

Nima said that every time he approached the police officers, he was told that they have sent the DNA to India and that they are awaiting the report.

He believes the forensic report could either convict or acquit his brother. “His trial has been too long and people say that if we don’t follow up, he will be convicted.”

Nima said that the delayed judgment is affecting the suspect’s health. Claiming that his brother is suffering from a disease, he said his condition worsens in bad weather. “If my brother is innocent, he is also losing precious years of his life in detention.”

Nima appealed to the High Court, requesting court officials to expedite the judgment but he was told that until the lower court passes judgment, the High Court could not intervene.

He alleged that police are deliberately delaying the DNA report to prolong the judgment.

“It is a sensitive case and they have to show that they did something. I hope they are not making my brother a scapegoat.”

He said police officials told him that they sent about 14 samples for DNA tests but the result for shoe print comparison report came within three months. “The shoe comparison result is inconclusive and I am wondering why the other reports are taking too long.”

The Trongsa murder case is not an isolated case for delayed judgment because of delayed forensic reports.

Police officials agreed that the DNA report for the Trongsa murder case has been delayed by about a year and eight months. “We know that it is a twin murder and a sensitive case. We sent several letters of request to expedite the report,” an official said.

Police officials confirmed that there are about 14 cases where DNA reports have been sent to Kolkata and are yet to received the results. “Only about seven cases have been waiting for results for more than a year. Most were sent six months ago and some, three months ago,” an official, who did not want to named, said.

He said that in absence of DNA testing facility in the country, they have to depend on third countries, which delays justice.

Last year, Paro district court sentenced a woman to 30 years imprisonment for murdering a couple without a DNA report.

Deputy chief of police for crime, Colonel Dorji Wangchuk, said that once they send the samples for forensic test, it is the prerogative of the concerned institutes on when to conduct the test and when to send the report. “We request them but we sent to countries that have huge population and they have many backlogs cases.”

He said that most of the DNA samples are sent to Kolkata. “Few are sent to Bangkok and Germany when they extend help.”

Meanwhile, the Trongsa dzongkhag legal officer, representing the office of the attorney general (OAG) as the prosecuting agency, charged the man for the twin murder with all the circumstantial evidence.

The DNA report, according to the legal officer, is not even on the evidence list.

“The suspect is a former police constable, who destroyed all the evidence,” a source said. “The DNA samples are sent based on the suspect’s request and the blood report is not even from the crime scene. It is not even sure whether the blood samples from the blankets are even his.”

It was learnt that some of the evidences against the suspect submitted before the court are narrations of people who were claimed to have been possessed by the spirit of the murdered boy. During such instances, the boy had claimed that the suspect was the murderer.

Trongsa district court scheduled to conduct the closing statement on the case on July 12.

Tashi Dema