Opening statement of Khandu Wangmo not accessible to the press

Though the media got hold of the opening statement shared by the three defendants, Supreme Court Justice Kuenlay Tshering, Drangpon Yeshi Dorji and former RBG Commandant Brigadier Thinley Tobgay, before the District Court on 17 March in connection to the criminal conspiracy case, however, the media could not get any information on the defendant Khandu Wangmo’s opening statement on 24th March.

The Bhutanese tried to get in touch with the court and OAG, but they refused to share any information on the matter.

Khandu Wangmo did not have any legal representative and she is representing herself. She was also denied bail.

The media was also not allowed into the court premises. The court has maintained this is not a closed door trial, but the secrecy and in transparency around Khandu Wangmo’s opening statement challenges this assertion.

In an earlier story covered by The Bhutanese on this matter, a source revealed that when Khandu Wangmo was questioned by the RBP she denied her role in both the cases (criminal conspiracy and sedition), and she had instead claimed that she is only a simple housewife, and she questioned how she could influence the three defendants.

Despite questioning by the RBP, she had not admitted to any guilt or her role throughout, and had either maintained a stony silence or put up denials.

In the absence of any information around Khandu Wangmo’s opening statement it is even difficult to say whether she still maintained the above stance or has changed it.

The other three defendants had requested for the court to dismiss their charges during their opening statements on 17th March.

Defendant Drangpon Yeshi Dorji during the opening statement claimed that he is the complainant and a victim, and therefore, he has requested the district court to dismiss the charges against him.

Defendants Justice Kuenlay Tshering and former RBG Commandant Brigadier Thinley Tobgay had both claimed to be misled with wrong information from Khandu Wangmo which they had believed.

RBP’s investigation on the criminal conspiracy found that Khandu Wangmo was allegedly the main instigator in the criminal conspiracy case which is why she faced the maximum of 11 charges (including 4 counts).

She was charged for abettor of mutiny, criminal misappropriation of property, larceny by deception, illegal possession of firearms, impersonation of uniformed personnel, obstruction of unlawful authorities and harassment and four counts under solicitation of official misconduct coming to a total of 11 charges.

Khandu Wangmo could not come on 17 March for an opening statement due to health reasons.

The date of rebuttal by OAG was supposed to be 25th March but it has been postponed for now and the next date is not clear yet.

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