Thinley Namgay  

On January 11, the Supreme Court (SC) sentenced Khandu Wangmo to a prison term of 21 years for her involvement in a sedition case.

She was found guilty on three counts of sedition and given seven years for each count of sedition.

Khandu Wangmo appealed to the SC on November 23 of last year, citing that she was not guilty of sedition.

In the SC appeal letter, she mentioned that the police didn’t investigate the source of the seditious documents properly, as the investigators were allegedly relatives of her former husband Yeshi Dorji, and there was a question on conflict of interest.

However, SC found her guilty of distributing seditious documents.

According to the Penal Code, a defendant shall be guilty of the offence of sedition if the defendant issues an insulting and hateful statement against the King or the Royal Government with the intent to defame, disrupt, encourage contempt, or incite hatred by the people against Bhutan.

On November 9 of last year, the HC altered the Thimphu dzongkhag court’s judgment and sentenced her to an increased prison term of 21 years.

On September 1, 2021, the Thimphu dzongkhag court sentenced her to 15 years in prison, five years for each count of sedition. However, the court reduced it to a concurrent prison term of five years.

However, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) appealed to the HC, requesting a harsher punishment, stating that the sentencing should be at least 15 to 27 years.

The OAG, in a press release issued for the appeal, then stated that the wide discretion exercised by the trial court with the decision of a five-year sentence, which could have been a maximum of 27 years, dishonoured the Tsawa-Sum and disregarded the efforts of the investigation and prosecuting agencies.

The HC also sentenced Khandu Wangmo to a concurrent prison term of nine years. She was convicted of abetting mutiny, criminal misappropriation of property, larceny by deception, illegal possession of firearms, and impersonation of uniformed personnel. She also received an additional prison term of 18 months for solicitation of official misconduct and harassment.