The owners of the five buildings affected by the long term water poisoning of the drinking water to their building and tenants, are not satisfied the with Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) investigation into the issue, saying that the main culprit has been let off.
The building owners are Jigme Chogyal, Tsencho Wangmo, Kinley Tenzin and Sonam who have all signed on the letter.
The RBP based on their investigation are charging only the man-servant Sangay Dorji but the building owners want the main suspect, who is the employer and master Pema Jungney to also be brought to justice.
The owners in their letter to the OAG wrote, “Sangay Dorji had confessed to the police that the contamination of the water with chemicals and kerosene was done at the instructions of his employer/master. It is true and understandable that he has no interest in contaminating our water, withouth his master’s instruction.”
Sangay Dorji in an initial statement to the RBP had admitted that he had poisoned the drinking water supply to the other five buildings in the area based on his master’s instructions. He later changed the statement to take the sole blame after the RBP allowed the servant and master to meet face to face and talk to each other. Sangay Dorji had worked as a servant of the family since his youth for the last two decades.
The letter from the building owners said that in all instances of water poisoning it was only Sangay Dorji’s master’s water that had not been contaminated.
They said that the various expensive chemicals and equipment had been provided to Sangay Dorji over the years to poison the water even though Sangay Dorji did not have money to buy them.
“Even with these facts the police have not detained the master. Rather, the police let the master meet with Sangay Dorji after which Sangay Dorji is said to have withdrawn his earlier confession,” says the letter.
“All these facts show that the police has compromised the case’s investigation. Therefore, their report charging only Sangay Dorji is not a fair investigation,” said the building owners.
They requested the OAG that the main culprit Pema Jungney named in Sangay Dorji’s earlier confession be re-examined and brought to justice.
The owners have also said that the water poisoning case was not a onetime incident and going on since April 2014.
“We don’t know how long we have been drinking this contaminated water. There will definitely be adverse impacts on the health, however, it is yet to be assessed and known,” said the owners.
One of the building owners gave the example of an eight month old pregnant mother named Yeshi who is anxious about the harm done to her unborn child drinking a toxic mix of chemicals in her water.
There are also several young babies residing in the buildings in addition to young children, old grandparents and adults numbering under 100 residents.
Sangay Dorji, not only confessed to pumping in kerosene but also bathroom cleaner Phenol, paint thinner and paint at different times on multiple occasions into the common water supply of five residential Mothithang buildings. All of these chemicals are highly poisonous for human consumption having both short term and long term health effects. One of the chemicals which is lead present in paint leads to major brain and nerve damage among children under five even in the smallest quantities.
The building owners said that after the water related poisoning started surfacing many tenants left the buildings and thus the owners also wanted compensation from the master Pema Jungney.
The Attorney General Shera Lhendup confirmed that his office had received such a letter.
He said, “We have asked the RBP to get a new statement from the servant independently so that he is not under any kind of undue fear.”
The AG said that others can be charge sheeted if the facts change either in the final statement or even in court where Sangay Dorji can reveal additional information or names.
The RBP in a statement said that they would be getting a final statement from Sangay Dorji based on the OAG’s instruction.
RBP said that it had followed all the proper legal procedures in its investigation and that it cannot detain or charge people just based on suspicions. It said that the servant and the master were allowed to face and each other as per a police practice of Dong-She where both the accuser and accused are allowed to face each other.
“This done to ensure that the accusation or confession will hold in the court of law otherwise people are known to turn back on their statements in the court and the court upholds them too,” said a RBP official.
The official said that after the Dong-she if the accuser or confessor is still holding on to the original statement then the RBP finds a reliable witness and records the statement. The RBP official said that only facts and figures can be presented in the court of law and only the court would decide who the guilty party is.
Meanwhile Pema Jungney said that his accusers can only accuse if they can prove it beyond any doubt and he challenged them to take up the matter in a court of law.
He said that his servant works for eight hours and beyond that what he did not bother with what his servant did in his own time.
He said that his reputation precedes him and he is familiar with security procedures having worked in the Customs Intelligence and as a Chief Security Coordinator. He said this is why he told the police he did not want to prejudice any investigation.
He said his reputation is not that of an ordinary family having served all the Kings from Jigme Namgyel’s time.
However, one of the building owner’s family members, familiar with security procedures, said that the RBP made a mistake in allowing the servant and master to meet. “It is another issue if they are strangers but since they are servant and master the police should have known better then to allow them to meet given the influence a master can wield over a long time servant,” he said.
He also said right after Sangay Dorji’s statement naming the master the RBP should have done due investigation right away based on the statement and put together the many evidences that were available, which was not done.
A building owner said that the usually the RBP shares information on any case with the media but in this case most journalists and media houses could not get information on the case from the RBP.