Police investigation recommends actions against Lungzor prison officials

A former inmate had filed a complaint alleging that duty officials battered him 

A team from the Royal Bhutan Police headquarters in Thimphu has completed its investigation on allegations of police personnel on duty battering a former inmate of Lungzor prison in Trashigang.

The former inmate, 19-year-old Leki Dorji from Samkhar, Trashigang alleged that the police official on duty battered him in June and March this year without any reason. He also alleged of being stabbed by another fellow inmate while in prison.

Leki Dorji claimed that he was battered by a group of police officials for no reason. He said he decided to complain since it is about misuse of power and also to prevent such incidents in prisons.

“I came across some duty officials beating some inmates and one of them asked me to leave,” he said adding that on his way back, he met the jail captain, who again asked him what he was upto. “I shared the incident to the captain but the duty police assumed that I was talking about him. He called me and without asking anything, started beating me. Other police officials on duty also joined in.”

The inquiry team said that they conducted a thorough investigation after receiving the complaint. The investigation found that the police official on duty did beat him and that Leki Dorji had also hit the official on duty.

“We are not trying to defend our police personal but we tried to do a fair investigation and for that we gathered statements from other prisoners who are still serving their term in jail,” an officer from the inquiry team said

Leki Dorji was convicted for battery after he was involved in a brawl with his uncle.  He was sentenced on September 22, 2015 and released in September this year.

Alleging that a fellow inmate stabbed him, he is questioning how an inmate got hold of the knife when weapons are strictly prohibited in prisons.

However, the inquiry team said that before the stabbing incident happened, Leki Dorji with two other inmates were sent to collect firewood for the promotion of a non-commissioned officer. After work, the officer took them home for lunch where Leki Dorji and another inmate, Kinley Gyeltshen is reported to have discretely drank local alcohol.

When they were returning to the jail, the police official on duty found Kinley Gyeltshen drunk but was not aware that Leki Dorji was also under the influence of alcohol.

“Leki was considered a strong man in the jail and they sought his help to get Kinley Gyeltshen inside. When he refused, another inmate Jigme Namgay who supposedly had a grudge against Leki Dorji asked him to not raise his hands on Kinley Gyeltshen,” the inquiry team said.

According to the inquiry’s team’s findings, Leki Dorji went inside the jail, picked up a fight with Jigme Namgay, who got a knife from the kitchen and stabbed him on the back thrice.

The team also said that before the fight broke out between the inmates, the jail captain who is also an inmate and responsible for the knife was out to collect ration. He had asked Jigme Namgay to keep an eye on the knife and other things in the kitchen.

Leki Dorji said that he was taken to hospital after he was stabbed and claims that it still hurts.

The inquiry team said that most people they questioned said that Leki Dorji was notorious and doesn’t get along with many of the inmates and duty police personnel.

In terms of action, the team recommended that the prison’s officer in-charge be sent on long-range patrol and transfer for non-compliance to prison rules. This action, the team said is not for being high handedness, for which no evidence was found. The prison warden was also recommended the same action for taking the prisoners out to fetch firewood from the family line.

Yeshey Dema

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