Crime: Thimphu district court’s bench IV yesterday heard the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) rebuttal against the prime accused Tandin Gyeltshen and his accomplice Karma Dorji’s in a murder case.
At the first hearing on July 23, Tandin Gyeltshen requested the court to reduce his sentence on the grounds that he was intoxicated and mentally unsound at the time of committing the crime.
However, the prosecutor presented 12 points to prove that Tandin Gyeltshen murdered the taxi driver intentionally. He said that there are two types of consumption. Involuntary consumption is when someone is forced to consume something without his knowledge or will. Voluntary consumption, on the other hand, is when someone consumes willfully.
Tandin Gyeltshen had consumed drugs on his will and he remembers everything that happened on the way from Phuentsholing until they reached Thimphu on the night of April 20.
The Penal Code of Bhutan’s section 78 says that intoxication shall not constitute a defence unless it negates an element of the offence and is administered to the defendant without defendant’s knowledge or against the defendant’s will.
As per investigation report, Tandin Gyeltshen and Karma Dorji boarded the taxi from Phuentsholing to attend funeral rites of Tandin Gyeltshen’s mother.
The duo handed over their controlled substances to the driver to fool police at check-posts. On the way, the taxi driver increased the fare by threatening the duo that he would report to police.
After crossing Chuzom, Tandin Gyeltshen passed a knife first and then a Kabney belonging to the driver to Karma Dorji, who was sitting at the back. Tandin Gyeltshen told Karma Dorji to slit the driver’s throat and strangulate him.
The prosecutor said that this act shows that Tandin Gyeltshen had a plan to kill the driver.
As per the investigation report, the men picked an eyewitness Kinlay Gyeltshen from his house located at the vegetable market and all of them drove towards Tandin Gyeltshen’s house in Olakha.
Tandin Gyeltshen directed the driver to go to Changjalu instead of Olakha. Karma Dorji asked why they are heading to Changjalu when they were suppose to go to Olakha, but Tandin Gyeltshen shut him up.
Despite repeated request by the duo, the driver refused to hand over the controlled substances as the men failed to pay the demanded fare. Following an argument between Tandin Gyeltshen and the driver, Tandin Gyeltshen stabbed the driver.
The prosecutor said that when examining the wounds on the body, there were seven stab wounds on the chest and two on the left side of the chest and one at the back of the throat. He said that if the driver was not stabbed intentionally, wounds would be on other parts of the body like legs and arms. Moreover, the numbers of stabs indicate that the act was intentional.
The prosecutor said that Tandin Gyeltshen tried to evade all the evidences by disposing the body to a place where there are no people and houses nearby and then driving the taxi and leaving it near Hotel Riverview.
“If Tandin Gyeltshen committed the crime under the influence of drugs, he would not have been able to think and act accordingly,” said the prosecutor.
The prosecutor maintained that the murder was intentional and charged Tandin Gyeltshen for a first-degree felony.
Karma Dorji also denied the OAG’s charges against him saying that he accompanied Tandin Gyeltshen as he feared that Tandin Gyeltshen would harm him too.
The prosecutor said that Karma Dorji had many chances to avoid the crime. Karma Dorji was not under the influence of drugs and could have stopped Tandin Gyeltshen from commiting the crime.
“The deceased was not dead when they drove above Babesa zero point and Karma Dorji could have stopped Tandin Gyeltshen from slitting the driver’s throat,” said the prosecutor.
When Tandin Gyeltshen passed the knife and Kabney to Karma Dorji and instigated him to slit the driver’s throat, Karma Dorji was aware of Tandin Gyeltshen’s intention. The vehicle documents, car key and driver’s mobile phone were handed over to Karma Dorji, which he threw into Thimchhu.
The prosecutor said that if Karma Dorji was scared, he could have run-away. But Karma Dorji was with Tandin Gyeltshen from the start till the end of the crime and did whatever he was asked to do.
Prosecutor said Karma Dorji is liable for a prison term of a minimum of nine years and a maximum of 15 years.
The accused will submit their rebuttal on July 31.
By Dechen Tshomo