The Royal Bhutan Army’s (RBA) lawyer, Captain Kinga Tenzin, refuted the claims that Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) took witness statements from shopkeepers under duress.

He was rebutting to the defendant, Major Dorji T’s appeal at the High Court’s Bench II yesterday.

“We’ve submitted recordings of interrogation with the shopkeepers to the lower court and will submit here too,” Captain Kinga Tenzin said.

The military court in Lungtenphug convicted Major Dorji T, who served as the administrative officer of the fourth batch of DeSuung for embezzling Nu 287,711.

The shopkeeper submitted to ACC that he received Nu 700,000 from the defendant but the defendant claimed that he paid Nu 900,000.

Captain Kinga Tenzin said the two receipts had a difference of Nu 287,711. He said the shopkeeper had witnesses and stated where and when the payment was made.

He requested the court to investigate the case thoroughly before making any decisions.

The lower court could not consider the new submissions the defendant and the shopkeeper made to the court because of collusion, he said. “The shopkeepers involved in the case gave their statements to ACC voluntarily and independently.”

He claimed that the military court had exercised due process as prescribed in the Civil and Criminal Procedure Code (CCPC) and the processes were done with due diligence.

Major Dorji T’s representative said that the prosecutor has to prove collusion between the shopkeeper and the defendant.

“How could there be collusion when the shopkeeper had given a statement against the defendant to ACC,” she said.

She said that if the defendant had embezzled, the court should check his bank account.  “The prosecutor has to produce evidence that he had embezzled.”

A non-commissioned officer, Karsang, who was assisting the administrative officer, said that he was not even summoned by ACC. “I was responsible for only preparing meals with whatever my superiors brought,” he said. “Even the vendor withdrew his statement to ACC in the court.”

He said the practice was that the assistants also received goods from shops when the administrative officer could not.

Major Dorji T’s representative alleged the prosecutor and the court officials of collusion as they allegedly went on judicial verification together.

Captain Kinga Tenzin demanded the defendant to prove the allegation or else the court should decide accordingly.

The court asked the parties to submit their evidence at the next hearing.

The hearing date is yet to be fixed as the two prosecutors have numerous hearings spread across the three benches of the High Court.

The ACC investigated into the DeSuung programme expenditure after receiving a complaint that there were cases of embezzlement. The findings were forwarded to the RBA, which prosecuted the officers involved.

Tshering Palden