Hearings completed for defamation case

Legal: With the final hearing on the defamation case between Sonam Phuntsho and defendants Namgay Zam and Dr Shacha Wangmo completed yesterday, a judgment is awaited.

The parties said that they have exhausted their submissions and that they have nothing more to submit on the case.

A businessman, Sonam Phuntsho filed the defamation case against a freelance journalist Namgay Zam and Dr Shacha Wangmo on August 12. He said that the 25 points in Dr Shacha Wangmo’s story, went viral through Namgay Zam’s Facebook page within days.

Sonam Phuntsho said he had been defamed and his family has been shamed. He is claiming Nu 2.59 million as compensation if he wins the case.

“I’m claiming 10 percent of the amount the case is worth,” he said on the first hearing of the case.

Later he added the national minimum wage as he claimed that he should be compensated for the medication he has to take for “mental shock”. The claim fell through as he could not produce a valid medical certificate to prove that he had suffered depression or trauma, as he had claimed.

Namgay Zam had asked the court to dismiss the case as the plaintiff was not defamed, while Dr Shacha Wangmo maintained what she wrote was true.

Namgay Zangmo asked the court to find Sonam Phuntsho, on failing to prove that he has been defamed, guilty of cantankerous litigation.

She said: “The plaintiff, Sonam Phuntsho should be held accountable and made to pay appropriate damages to the defendants.”

The hearings saw the two parties engage in personal attacks as each tried to prove their points on defamation.

The judge has a huge pile of charges and counter charges and evidence submitted to counter allegations from each party as they were diverted from the defamation case, to the property case that has been decided by the judiciary earlier this year.

From the beginning the judge kept reminding the parties to stick to the issue. “The case is about defamation and submission irrelevant to the charge won’t be considered,” Drangpon Kinley Namgyal said.

The case has attracted international attention with news media such as the New York Times, and The Guardian, among others reporting on it.

Within the country, the first hearing on the case saw a packed courtroom and generated lengthy discussions online. The numbers in court, however, has dwindled to half a dozen yesterday at the last hearing on the case.

Tshering Palden 

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