Stolen statue recovered and returned after six years

Crime: Royal Bhutan Police’s special investigation team (SIT) for western region recovered the Gomo statue, almost six years after it was stolen from the Namgyel Tshe Lhakhang, Selwa in Punakha in 2009.
The SIT returned the statue to the Lhakhang on August 3. The statue along with its ornaments was robbed on March 15 in 2009. The lhakhang’s caretaker reported the incident to Punakha police the next day.
In May this year, an informer reported to police about a trade of a statue. The Gomo statue was seized from a 29-year-old man in Thimphu.
The recovered statue was confirmed to be the Gomo statue after the department of culture and the central monastic body verified it.
The suspect told police that he had brought the statue from his grandmother’s house in Trongsa after her death last year. His younger sister, who was living with the grandmother, told police that she heard her grandmother saying that the statue belonged to a 40-year-old man who later turned out to be the main suspect.
Last month, the SIT arrested the main suspect who is from Punakha. On interrogation, the team found that the main suspect served as a caretaker of the Namgyal Tshe Lhakhang from 2000 to 2002 when he was a monk at Selwa Shedra in Punakha.
The suspect told police that he had met the late woman when he was doing vegetable business in Bumthang and Trongsa after retiring from the monk body.
He had broken the latch to the Lhakhang and returned to Khuruthang the same night with the statue. Few days later, the late woman came to Khuruthang with another man to collect the statue. The main suspect told police that the woman had agreed to give him half the amount after selling the statue.
The 62-year-old man who accompanied her was arrested last month. A cats’ eye, beads and a silver amulet were also stolen along with the statue. The ornaments have not been recovered.
By Dechen Tshomo

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