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Ascertain quantity of restricted items served in 19th DeSuung training: HC

In the Royal Bhutan Army (RBA) versus Lt. Colonel Ugyen Norbu case, the High Court’s bench III conducted two hearings to allow the prosecutors and the defendant justify the contentious status of Nu 100,000.

The RBA lawyers, in their rebuttal on February 13, submitted that Lt. Colonel Ugyen Norbu, while serving as the administrative officer for 19th DeSuung training, incurred a shortage of Nu 288,734.

Providing details of the shortage, Captain Kinga Tenzin submitted that Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) investigations initially reflected a shortage of more than Nu 408,000 but the lower court, after a thorough investigation, reduced the amount to Nu 288,734.

The officer was accused of adjusting about Nu 70,000 from Lemo Tshongkhang, about Nu 98,000 from Sita meat shop, Nu 20,000 from Dorji Beverages and Nu 100,000 from Dolma Tshongkhang.

Lt. Colonel Ugyen Norbu contended that while he had adjusted with three vendors, he never adjusted Nu 100,000 with Dolma Tshongkhang.

He claimed that when Dolma Tshongkhang shopkeeper came with inflated bills and fruits to his residence, he didn’t accept it saying it was illegal. “I then went and informed the commandant that such illegal practices are going on.”

He also said that the shop owner gave in writing that there was no adjustment.

The prosecutors, however, submitted that the Nu 100,000 adjustment was based on Peljab Wangchuk’s statement to the ACC that he adjusted a bill of Nu 50,000 to 100,000 on the soft copy of the bill on the officer’s order.

“ACC also conducted a forensic investigation of the bill and the computer in the administrative officer’s office where it was edited,” Captain Kinga Tenzin said.

When the court questioned the prosecutors if adjustment amounts to embezzlement, the prosecutors submitted that they based it on ACC Act’s section 53, which states, “A public servant who has been entrusted to take care, keep custody, or under control of any property or any other thing of value, directly or indirectly: (a) wilfully uses those property or any other thing of value for a purpose other than that for which they are intended or legally required to be used; or (b) Fails to produce account or account the use of those property, or any other thing of value upon demand by a lawful government authority, shall be guilty of an offence of embezzlement.”

Lt. Colonel Ugyen Norbu refuted the charges of adjusting any bill in the computer, saying the computer was not even functioning properly. “The lawyers should submit an initial bill and edited bill to prove it was edited and adjusted.”

The court asked the RBA lawyers to ascertain if the nine items Lt. Colonel Ugyen Norbu submitted to the court as adjustment bills were served during the training programme and the quantity. The defendant will also have to provide the details and evidences of his adjustment bill.

Although the prosecutors acknowledged that the items could have been served, they say there was no proper bill and accounts maintained.

The evidence hearing for the case is on February 20.

Tashi Dema

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