The two convicted men murdered a villager who they suspected of sorcery

Verdict: The High Court, on February 9, sentenced two men, Dorji Gyeltshen and Tenzin Dorji, from Gomdar in Samdrupjongkhar to life imprisonment for murdering a villager, who they suspected of sorcery, in 2015.

The judgment was an alteration of the Samdrupjongkhar court’s judgment that sentenced the two men to 20 years each in prison.

The High Court also upheld the judgment against another villager, Singye, who was sentenced to six years in prison.

Samdrupjongkhar court, on October 10 last year sentenced Dorji Gyeltshen and Tenzin Dorji to 20 years each in prison for murdering another villager from Gomdar, Sangay Tshering, and ordered them to pay a compensation of Nu 450,000 each to the victim’s family.

The court also sent Singye to six years in prison for aiding and abetting the murder. He was also ordered to pay Nu 450,000 as compensation to the victim’s family.

The Office of the Attorney General  (OAG) appealed to the High Court stating that the two men should be imprisoned for life.

In the incident that occurred in the wee hours of August 16, 2015, Dorji Gyeltshen went to the deceased’s house and asked him to accompany him to go to sell potatoes.

While Dorji Gyeltshen and the deceased, Sangay Tshering, were walking, Tenzin Dorji, who was waiting in ambush, hit Sangay Tshering on the head with a piece of wood.

The court’s judgment stated that when he was not killed with the first blow, Dorji Gyeltshen then stabbed Sangay Tshering and murdered him. “The two men then threw Sangay Tsering into the river.”

Tenzin Dorji submitted before the court that his father-in-law, Singye, told him to help Dorji Gyeltshen murder Sangay Tshering as the deceased had been plaguing the village with black magic.

Dorji Gyeltshen submitted that when he went to consult an astrologer in the bordering town of Mela Bazar in Assam, India, as his mother was seriously ill, the astrologer showed him Sangay Tshering’s image in a mirror as the cause of his mother’s sickness. “If the astrologer did not show the image, I would not have murdered Sangay Tshering.”

Tenzin Dorji’s father-in-law, Singye, contested before the dzongkhag and High Court that he never aided the murder but that Dorji Gyeltshen and Tenzin Dorji took out his name as revenge, since he reported the matter to the gewog.

The OAG’s prosecutor Tshering Dorji, however, submitted that Singye reported the matter to the gup only after the two men were arrested. The prosecutor also submitted that Singye should have reported the matter to Sangay Tshering’s family.

Dorji Gyeltshen was arrested on August 27, 2015 and Tenzin Dorji was arrested on August 29, 2015.

The deceased’s son, Tshering Duba, submitted before the dzongkhag court that the family is not satisfied with OAG prosecuting only three people, when police had initially charged 16 people for their father’s murder.

He also submitted that another villager and his wife should also be charged as police arrested them in connection for their father’s murder since Dorji Gyeltshen, after murdering Sangay Tshering, kept Sangay Tshering’s Nu 50,000 with them.

Dorji Gyeltshen and Tenzin Dorji requested the High Court to not alter the judgment, justifying that they murdered Sangay Tshering because astrologers in Mela Bazar in the bordering Indian state of Assam showed them Sangay Tshering’s image in a mirror as the cause of Dorji Gyeltshen’s mother’s illness.

They submitted that they otherwise lived cordially in the village.

The High Court, in the judgment, stated that the two men are being sentenced to life imprisonment since it has been proved beyond reasonable doubt that they murdered the deceased purposely, knowingly and recklessly with premeditated malice.

The High Court also stated that the life imprisonment sentence was given as per section 7 (a) of the Penal Code.

Tashi Dema