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Prosecution deems offences as highly sensitive and detrimental to national security and sovereignty 

Younten Tshedup

The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) has requested for an exemplary punishment with maximum sentencing for the defendants in the ongoing criminal case involving top officials from the judiciary, the Royal Body Guards (RBG) and Khandu Wangmo.

During the preliminary hearing of the case yesterday at the Thimphu dzongkhag court, in which media was not allowed, prosecutors submitted that the alleged offences committed by the defendants were highly sensitive, grave, serious in nature and detrimental to national security, peace, unity, and sovereignty of the country.

Khandu Wangmo, RBG’s former commandant Brigadier Thinley Tobgay, Justice Kuenlay Tshering of the Supreme Court and Pemagatshel Drangpon Yeshey Dorji were charged with commission of criminal conspiracy, mutiny, abetting mutiny, and other criminal offences.

Khandu Wangmo has the maximum charges. She was charged for eight offences, including abettor of mutiny, criminal misappropriation of property, larceny by deception, illegal possession of firearm, impersonation of uniformed personnel, four counts of solicitation of official misconduct, obstruction of lawful authorities, and harassment.

Brigadier Thinley Tobgay was charged with mutiny, criminal misappropriation of property, two counts of aiding and abetting, two counts of official misconduct, and harassment.

Justice Kuenley Tshering was charged with abetting mutiny, commission amounting to abuse of functions, and obstruction of lawful authorities.

Drangpon Yeshey Dorji was charged with abetting mutiny and larceny by deception. 

The charges 

Khandu Wangmo is charged as an abettor of mutiny as she, in collusion with Justice Kuenlay Tshering and Drangpon Yeshey Dorji, had allegedly abetted Brigadier Thinley Tobgay in the mutiny to overthrow the Chief Operations Officer of the RBA, General Batoo Tshering.

She was charged also with unlawful misappropriation Nu 6.5 million (M) from the RBG fund and deceptively availing loan of Nu 8M in collusion with Yeshey Dorji, her former husband in collusion with Brigadier Thinley Tobgay.

The OAG also charged Khandu Wangmo with illegal possession of a Glock 19 pistol issued illegally by the Brigadier and for impersonating a uniformed personnel.  She was alleged to have worn a Brigadier rank SD suit (military uniform) with full insignia issued by the Brigadier.  She was also charged with knowingly using an unauthorised RBG vehicle bearing a private vehicle registration number (BP-1B-2032) and army personnel for her personal use.

The charges also state that she solicited Brigadier Thinley Tobgay to illegally obtain classified confidential UN tender documents from RBA headquarters in Lungtenphu, Thimphu.  She was also charged for acquainting and on her behest receiving ‘substantially high marks’ from Justice Kuenlay Tshering in securing the Chevening Scholarship.

Khandu Wangmo was also alleged to have solicited Justice Kuenlay Tshering to unlawfully direct the judge of the Family and Child Bench of Thimphu Dzongkhag Court to defer a warrant issued against her for the Judgement Enforcement.  She further solicited Justice Kuenlay Tshering to unlawfully obstruct the legitimate claim of USD 12,000 by a foreigner with intervention from Michel Rutland.

She was also charged with knowingly obstructing the lawful execution of an impending arrest warrant by hiding a former Thimphu gup in her house and preventing his arrest by lawful authorities.

The final charge against Khandu Wangmo was for harassment and threatening, in collusion with Brigadier Thinley Tobgay, colonel Karma Lodey Samphel of RBA, who was her former boyfriend.

Brigadier Thinley Tobgay was charged with conspiring and committing mutiny to overthrow and replace the COO of RBA in collusion with Justice Kuenlay Tshering, Khandu Wangmo, and Drangpon Yeshey Dorji. He was also charged with unlawful misappropriation of Nu 6.5M from the RBG fund and an additional Nu 500,000 recovered from Khandu Wangmo as interest.

The Brigadier was alleged to have unlawfully issued a Glock 19 pistol and a Brigadier rank SD suit with full insignia to Khandu Wangmo for which he was charged with aiding and abetting.

On the official misconduct, the Brigadier was charged with unlawfully deputing an official RBG vehicle and army personnel for Khandu Wangmo’s usage, including illegally obtaining classified confidential UN tender documents from RBA headquarters.

Brigadier Thinley Tobgay was also charged with colluding with Khandu Wangmo and harassing and threatening RBA colonel Karma Lodey Samphel.

Justice Kuenlay Tshering was charged as an abettor of mutiny in the alleged mutiny conspired and committed by Brigadier Thinley Tobgay, in collusion with Khandu Wangmo and Drangpon Yeshey Dorji.

He was also charged with aiding Khandu Wangmo to secure the Chevening Scholarship as a member of the Chevening Scholarship panellists in his official capacity while in the payroll of the High Court Justice.  It was alleged that he awarded ‘substantially high’ marks to Khandu Wangmo with deliberate intent to award the scholarship and granted undue favour for her to unjustly pursue studies in the United Kingdom.

Justice Kuenlay Tshering was also charged with misusing his authority to illegally obstruct and prevent a foreigner from legally pursuing a case to recover USD 12,000 from Khandu Wangmo by involving Michael Rutland.  He was also charged with unlawfully directing the judge of the Family and Child Bench of Thimphu Dzongkhag Court to defer the execution of an arrest warrant against Khandu Wangmo.

Drangpon Yeshey Dorji was charged as an abettor of mutiny in collusion with Khandu Wangmo and Justice Kuenlay Tshering with an ulterior motive to become the Registrar General of the Supreme Court.

In collusion with Khandu Wangmo, the drangpon was alleged to have deceptively availed a loan from the Royal Insurance Corporation of Bhutan Ltd on the pretext of starting businesses.

 

How the case surfaced?

According to the OAG’s prosecution, Drangpon Yeshey Dorji had filed a crime information report (CIR) of impersonation of uniformed personnel and deceptive practice against Khandu Wangmo and Brigadier Thinley Tobgay on July 9 last year.

Meanwhile, RBA colonel Karma Lodey Samphel had also lodged a written complaint to Royal Bhutan Police on October 20 last year against Khandu Wangmo and Thinley Tobgay for harassing him for about seven months between April and October 2016.

Based on the complaint, police conducted a detailed investigation, where it was revealed that Khandu Wangmo in collusion with Justice Kuenlay Tshering, Drangpon Yeshey Dorji and Brigadier Thinley Tobgay were found to be involved in the commission of criminal conspiracy of mutiny and abettor of mutiny, including other criminal offences from 2015 until 2018, which were planned discreetly.

According to OAG, the criminal conspiracy of mutiny to overthrow the COO of RBA and other criminal acts, in collusion with Brigadier Thinley Tobgay, Justice Kuenlay Tshering, and Drangpon Yeshey Dorji, were established through their voluntary confessional written statements to the RBP, corroborated by the collation of documentary and electronic evidence forwarded to the OAG.

The criminal conspiracy and the intent to achieve personal gratification of replacing the COO, Supreme Court Chief Justice and Registrar General were corroborated by numerous incriminating evidence, detailed records of discrete meetings, well-planned and final lodging of unsubstantiated written allegation against the COO, submitted the OAG to the dzongkhag court yesterday.

The next hearing will be conducted on March 17, where the defendants will submit their rebuttals.

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