Rinzin Wangchuk 

Three defendants who were convicted for criminal conspiracy and abettor of mutiny by the Thimphu dzongkhag court had appealed to the  High Court (HC) this week.

SupremeCourt Justice Kuenlay Tshering and Pemagatshel dzongkhag judge Yeshey Dorji appealed to the HC on August 3 and 5 respectively while defendant Khandu Wangmo, popularly known as Bumden Khandu, appealed yesterday.

Thimphu dzongkhag court, on July 23, convicted and sentenced them to prison terms ranging from five to nine years for the offenses of colluding and criminal conspiracy to overthrow the Chief Operations Officer (COO) of the Royal Bhutan Army.

The senior-most serving justice of the Supreme Court and Pemagatshel judge received five years prison term each and Khandu Wangmo, a prison term of nine years.

Kuensel could not confirm on what grounds the defendants appealed to the HC. However, Justice Kuenlay Tshering argued before the trial court that there was no basis to charge him for the offense of abettor of mutiny. He submitted that the legal dictionary compiled by the High Court defined mutiny as an offense committed by a person for revolting or going against the commands (refused to obey orders).

He furthered justified that the most popular legal dictionary, Black’s Law, also defined mutiny as an insurrection of soldiers against the lawful military authority with intent to usurp or override the power in concert with any other person, to disobey orders or otherwise do his duty or creates any violence or disturbance is guilty of mutiny.

Kuenlay Tshering argued that the interpretation or understanding of abettor of mutiny means a person abets and instigates the committing of mutiny by a soldier or officer of the army by not obeying orders and revolt against the lawful authority.

“Compiling documents of  corruption allegations to be sent to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) cannot be treated as an offense of abettor of mutiny,” Justice Kuenlay Tshering submitted at the trial court. This was one of the charges imposed on the justice.

Drangpon Yeshey Dorji also argued before the trial court that without considering how he became the victim of offenses committed by Khandu Wangmo and former Royal Body Guards commandant, Brigadier Thinley Tobgye, through deceptive practices for their personal gains, he was also charged with them. “That is why I reported to the Crime Information Report (CIR) of Impersonation of Uniformed Personnel and Deceptive Practice against Khandu Wangmo and the former Brigadier Thinley Tobgye  to the Crime Branch,” he submitted.

He submitted that the court should dismiss his charge by considering him as informer of criminal offense and victim in the present case.

Both Justice Kuenlay Tshering and Drangpon Yeshey Dorji were found guilty  for conducting several discreet meetings in collusion with Khandu Wangmo and Thinley Tobgye and drafting unsubstantiated allegations against  COO of RBA Goongloen Batoo Tshering.

“Having thus collated, compiled, and confirmed grouping of the unfounded allegations and final edition of the charges, the written allegations were discreetly posted to the ACC with pure malicious intent to overthrow the Army Chief,”  the Office of the Attorney General (OAG), which prosecuted the case, stated in the charges framed against them.

Meanwhile, Thinley Tobgye, who received 10 years prison for the offense of mutiny, has not appealed as of 5pm yesterday. The 10-day appeal period ended yesterday.

He was convicted to 10 years for mutiny. In collusion with three other defendants, Thinley Tobgye had “conspired and committed mutiny to overthrow Goongloen Batoo Tshering with his personal intent to replace the former.


Bumden Khandu submits 23-page appeal letter

Defendant Khandu Wangmo will present her grounds of appeal to the High Court on Monday. Her representative submitted more than 23 pages of appeal letters yesterday.

Khandu Wangmo was found guilty of abetting Thinley Tobgye in the mutiny to overthrow the RBA’s COO, in collusion with Justice Kuenlay Tshering and Drangpon Yeshey  Dorji. She was also found guilty of criminal misappropriation of property, larceny by deception, illegal possession of a firearm and impersonation of uniformed personnel.

Defendant Khandu Wangmo, 41, from Thimphu started her career as a teacher but later resigned and joined as Liaison Officer besides serving as a Social Secretary to the Ambassador, Embassy of India in Thimphu. She married Drangpon Yeshey Dorji  in 2017 after she divorced her first husband.

She first met defendant Thinley Tobgye at MTC, Tencholing, when she was accompanying the then Indian Ambassador who had gone to deliver a talk to the Desuung trainees. In 2015, after defendant Thinley Tobgye acquainted with her. From April till October 2016, defendant Khandu Wangmo and defendant Thinley Tobgye harassed one RBA Colonel, ex- boyfriend of defendant Khandu Wangmo, putting him under emotional and mental distress which led to filing a criminal complaint against the duo.