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The Royal Bhutan Police has re-arrested four accused who were convicted by the Paro dzongkhag court and granted bail by the High Court earlier this year for smuggling 52kgs of gold into the country from the northern border of Phari in Tibet.

Kuensel sources said that the four accused – Rinchen Tshering, Dorji, Gem Dorji and Tandin Tshering, all from Tsento gewog, Paro were re-arrested few days ago after the police investigation team learnt about their alleged involvement in smuggling 52kg of gold biscuits and not 6kg gold as earlier convicted by the lower court.

Based on 6kg gold seized by police and charged accordingly by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG), Paro court on December 25 last year convicted all four defendants and sentenced them to five-year non-compoundable prison term each as per the provisions of Penal code. Gold smuggling is graded a third-degree felony with a prison term ranging from five to nine years.

They were granted bail after they appealed to the High Court in January.

Paro court’s ruling stated that it was proven beyond reasonable doubt that Rinchen Tshering on June 12, 2017 hired and sent Dorji, Gem Dorji and Tandin Tshering to Phari to carry out his cordyceps business with a Tibetan called Dawa. He agreed to pay them Nu 40,000 each as carrying charge.

The three men met Dawa at Chimla, border between Bhutan and Tibet, and negotiated to sell the cordyceps sent by Rinchen Tshering. Dawa, however, rejected the cordyceps because of poor quality and instead asked the trio to carry 6kg of gold biscuits (24K which is graded as 99.9 percent purity) and hand it over to Rinchen Tshering who would then ferry to Phuentsholing.

On June 15, Rinchen Tshering went to pick up the trio in his car from Shana in Tsento gewog. Paro police arrested them when they were returning from Shana and seized the gold.

Police handed over the seized gold to the Royal Monetary Authority on June 15, 2017 and 4,273 cordyceps to the department of forest on October 26, 2018. The court passed the judgment to forfeit both gold and cordyceps.

 

Two involved in more than two cases

Rinchen Tshering, a businessman and Gem Dorji, a farmer were being tried with four other suspects for illegally importing 31kg of gold into the country from Kerila, Bhutan and Tibetan border in June 2018. Sources say they were in involved in gold several smuggling cases after they were granted bail by the Paro court.

Based on a tip-off, Paro police arrested the duo along with Lhab Gyeltshen, Tshering Dorji, and Khandu around 8.30am on May 1 this year.

OAG charged them at the Paro court on June 21 for smuggling gold and solicitation. They were granted bail including Rinchen Tshering and Gem Dorji.

Of the 31kg gold, police recovered 7kg gold and seized 2kg fake gold, Nu 5.4M and Rivo Hilux from Gem Dorji.

Gem Dorji is also charged for smuggling another 52kg of gold biscuits amounting to Nu 151.664 million along with nine men in Paro court on June 13. He is also being prosecuted in a separate case, for smuggling of 20kg of gold.

Kuensel learnt that the High Court has also issued a re-arrest warrant for three other accused for smuggling in 31kg gold in 2017. Paro court sentenced them for two and a half years to five years in prison for smuggling 15kg gold instead of 31kg.

Rinzin Wangchuk

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