Haa dzongkhag court sentenced three soldiers of the Royal Bhutan Army (RBA) Demo Company in Haa on April 20 to 18 months compoundable imprisonment for their involvement in an assault and battery case. They can pay in lieu of the prison terms.

Each of the soldiers also have to pay the national wage rate for 18 months or Nu 67,500 as compensation for causing injury to the civilian whom they battered. If they fail to pay within 10 days of the verdict, their imprisonment term will be extended by 18 months.

The civilian, Tshering Dorji is also given a compoundable sentence of three months imprisonment for being the first to physically assault one of the soldiers, Tsagay, who the RBA said suffered a cut above the eye and needed a six-inch long stitch.

Tshering Dorji will have to pay Tsagay the national wage rate for three months amounting to Nu 11,250 for causing injury to the latter. The incident occurred in the wee hours of October 17 last year.

It was at around 2am that the Haa resident visited a musical show at the RBA dining hall, which was turned into a drayang during the IMTRAT Raising Day.

According to Tshering Dorji’s statement to police, he and two men went outside the hall after the two refused to sit down when he asked them to, as he could not see the show from behind. The three went outside the hall to settle the matter. Tshering Dorji punched Tsagay, one of the three soldiers. The soldiers later returned with more soldiers. He confronted the men armed with beer bottles but was beaten with sticks, beer bottles, and chairs.

Tsagay told police that he was on duty and had gone to watch performances in the hall at the IMTRAT fair premises in plainclothes, when Tshering Dorji unnecessarily picked on him and then punched him on the face later.  He told police that he informed his friends of the incident, who then asked him to identify the person. The three met Tshering Dorji at the hall and a fight broke out.

The two soldiers, Passang and Nima Dorji, who were patrolling the area that morning, said that when they reached the hall, Tshering Dorji hurled punches and beer bottles at them. In retaliation, they used bottles, chairs, and benches.

Tshering Dorji was taken to the IMTRAT hospital in Haa and later referred to the Thimphu referral hospital. He was sent home on October 24.

According to the medical report, the 32-year-old resident, Tshering Dorji had sustained major injuries in the loin region, laceration of the kidney and scalp. Tsagay’s injuries were found to be less serious.

Both parties registered a case with the Royal Bhutan Police at Haa.

The verdict stated that the statements to the police were complimented by those  the parties submitted in the court and were in line with sections 84 and 85 of the Evidence Act.

Tshering Palden