Paro & Thimphu investigations hampered by delay in DNA testing due to COVID-19

The investigations for two heinous crimes, the Paro rape and murder case and Dechencholing Dena Koirala case, which occurred in September and December 2019 respectively are still ongoing. The Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) is yet to catch the culprits in the cases.

The body of an eight-year-old girl was recovered from 50 meters above Satsam Chorten, Drugyel, Paro on 18 September at around 9 pm. Forensic report found that the deceased child was sexually assaulted and murdered.

In the process, police arrested a chef on 19 December based on the evidence that his DNA fingerprint matched with the DNA found on a black shoe lace or drawstring lace or ligature used to strangulate the deceased. RBP said it sent a few batches of DNA to the United Kingdom.

However, the DNA of the spermatozoa (vaginal swab) found on the dead 8-year-old girl does not match with the chef’s. RBP hoped that he could lead them to the prime suspect but he has completely denied any connection to the crime.

The chef has only confessed to touching a foot of the deceased to see if she was alive. The chef was amongst the search party who first spotted the body. RBP compiled a list of 980 people including non-Bhutanese for DNA testing.

Meanwhile, a partially eaten body of nine-year-old Dena Koirala was recovered on 11 December 2019.  It is initially suspected that a wild animal or dogs could have eaten parts of her body. RBP is yet to ascertain the cause of her death.

However, as per the forensic report, the probable cause of death was due to ligature constriction (strangulation) due to the certain specific injuries on her neck.

The report also does not confirm sexual assault as no obvious sperm cells in the medical swabs was discovered and also due to the animal attacking on certain private parts of the body.

The Police Chief in an earlier interview said that they are not ruling out anything till they can come across some evidence. He said that lack of eyewitnesses is hampering the investigation.

Dena was last seen alive when her mother had sent her to get the bank book from their house on 9 December at around 10:30 am, whereby she never reached home.

A source from RBP said, “We are investigating the cases, and those two cases were always given the priority. However, due to the lockdown and sealed border, we are somehow impacted to get the DNA tests done.”

Likewise, a source from the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) said, “COVID-19 did not have a negative impact on case prosecution. Whatever case we have received from RBP, we have distributed the cases, and we have been prosecuting without any hindrance.”

However, the cases that need to have DNA tests are an issue due to the lockdown.

Otherwise, everything is going well,  the OAG source added.

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