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High Court’s bench III on April 3 sentenced a man from Punakha to two years in prison for attempting human trafficking and another three and a half years for burglary charges.

The Office of the Attorney General appealed to the High Court on July 19 2017 after the Thimphu dzongkhag court deferred the human trafficking  case citing inadequate evidence.

The dzongkhag court ruled that the two women, who he tried to send to Malaysia to work, had not raised any issues on the charges of trafficking and that there was no evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the man was trafficking them.

The High Court judgment stated that copies of messages exchanged between the convict and another person in Malaysia, David Voon, about sending the women over was evidence enough.

The convict also had made the passport for the two women, paying the fees. One of the women submitted to the High Court that their air tickets were booked on different dates.

The High Court judgment stated that had the police not arrested him in connection to burglary crimes he would have attempted to send them to Malaysia.

The High Court ruled that Lobzang Nima had violated sections 154 and 120 of the Bhutan Penal Code for attempted human trafficking.

Section 154 states, “A defendant shall be guilty of the offence of trafficking a person if the defendant recruits, transports, sells or buys, harbours or receives a person through the use of threat or force or deception within, into or outside of Bhutan for any illegal purpose”.

Section 120 of the Code on criminal attempt states, a person shall be guilty of the offence of an attempt to commit a crime, if the person either acts with the culpability required for commission of a crime, or engages in a conduct/an omission, which constitutes the commission of the crime.

The convict in contradiction to the regulation on Bhutanese Overseas Employment Agent 2013 did not have license to send the two women to abroad.

High Court judgment ordered two years in prison, which is half the penalty liable for human trafficking, as he did not commit the crime.

Lobzang Nima was arrested in July 2016 in connection with a series of burglaries in Thimphu. While he did not admit to committing the burglaries, the items reported to police as stolen were recovered from his apartment in Taba. He also did not appeal against the sentence for burglaries by the Thimphu dzongkhag court.

The High Court upheld the judgment of the Thimphu dzongkhag court on the charges of burglary that he committed in the offices of Bhutan Environment Trust Fund, and Norbu Bhutan Travel, and ordered him to pay Nu 416,931 as compensation for the damages or serve prison terms equal to the amount.

Police sources had said that he was arrested in Singapore in April 2013 for breaking into houses and restaurants and also for overstaying his visa. The man was sentenced to a prison term of four years and three months but deported before completion of his term.

After completing class 12 from a private school in Thimphu, the man went to Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore in search of a job. He worked as a waiter at a restaurant in Singapore.

Tshering Palden

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