Thimphu District Court

Thimphu District Court convicts four defendants involved in Criminal Conspiracy case

The Thimphu District Court on 23 July convicted four defendants, Khandu Wangmo, former RBG Commandant Brigadier Thinley Tobgay, Supreme Court Justice Kuenlay Tshering and Drangpon Yeshey Dorji to a prison term ranging from 5 years to 10 years.

As the offenses committed by the defendants are highly sensitive, grievous, most serious in nature and detrimental to the very core of national security, peace and sovereignty of the country, the Office of Attorney General (OAG) called for maximum sentencing and the awarding of consecutive terms.

However, the court has given them concurrent sentences and some of them can pay Thrim-thue in lieu of imprisonment for certain offences and charges.

Defendant Khandu Wangmo was charged the highest with 11 charges. The judgment states that she was actually convicted for 21 years (5 years for abbetor of mutiny, 5 years for larceny by deception, 5 years for criminal misappropriation of property, 3 years for illegal possession of firearms , 3 years for impersonation of uniformed personnel).

However, she was given a concurrent sentence of 9 years for those offences. For two counts of official misconduct (misuse of RBG duty car and personnel and illegally obtaining UN tender documents) and harassment, the court has convicted her to 18 months in prison. But she can pay Thrim-thue in lieu of imprisonment for those three offences.

The charges against Khandu Wangmo on deferring of arrest warrant from the family bench, Chevening scholarship, denial of fair trail to Ms. Sothy Toep (from whom she allegedly borrowed USD 12,000) and harboring Gup Kanjur has been dropped due to lack of evidence.

Counting all the charges against the second defendant, the former RBG Commandant Brigadier Thinley Tobgay, the imprisonment term comes to 18 years. He had the second highest (7) charges. For abettor of mutiny, he was convicted for 10 years, 5 years for criminal misappropriate of property, 18 months for illegal possession of firearms and 18 months for impersonation of uniformed personnel.

The court has given him a concurrent sentence for 10 years from 18 years of imprisonment. He can pay Thrim-thue in lieu of imprisonment for offences of two charges for official misconduct (2 years) and one charge of harassment (6 months).

For the third defendant Supreme Court Justice Kuenlay Tshering, the court has sentenced him to 5 years in prison for abettor of mutiny. However, the court has dropped the three charges of official misconduct (deferring of Khandu Wangmo’s arrest warrant, Chevening scholarship and denial of fair trail to Ms. Sothy Toep) against him due to lack of evidences.

The court has charged Drangpon Yeshey Dorji, the fourth defendant to 5 years in prison for abettor of mutiny and 3 years for larceny by deception (accomplice to Khandu Wangmo), taking total sentence to 8 years. However, the court has given him a concurrent sentence of 5 years.

Background

Meanwhile, the case came into limelight after the then Drangpon Yeshey Dorji filed a Crime Information Report (CIR) of impersonation of uniformed personnel and deceptive practice against Khandu Wangmo and former Brigadier Thinley Tobgay on 9 July 2020 to the crime branch of RBP.

In addition, Colonel Karma Lodey Samphel of the RBA had also lodged a written complaint to RBP on 20 October 2020 against Khandu Wangmo and Thinley Tobgay for harassing him for a period of seven months from April 2016 to October 2016.

RBP then carried out a detailed investigation. The investigation revealed that Khandu Wangmo in collusion with Justice Kuenlay Tshering, Drangpon Yeshey Dorji and Thinley Tobgay were found to be involved into the commission of criminal conspiracy of mutiny and abettor of mutiny, and other criminal offenses over the period of 4 years, from 2015 to 2018 which were planned discreetly.

The case in essence revolves around Khandu Wangmo who worked in the Indian Embassy from 2012-13 to 2016 where she served as a Secretary of sorts starting first under the then Indian Ambassador Pavan Verma.

Khandu Wangmo had developed some person grudge against the Chief Operations Officer Lt Gen Batoo Tshering and she used a web of lies, deceit and elaborate deception to convince Justice Kuenlay Tshering, Drangpon Yeshey Dorji and Brigadier Thinley Tobgay to move against the COO.

She made the Brigadier get tender documents for purchase of UN Vehicles by the RBA. She then made Justice Kuenlay Tshering review the documents, frame legal charges and send it to the ACC as a complaint.

She had married Drangpon Yeshey Dorji who was aware of the conspiracy but did not report it at the time.

ACC said they had processed the complaint or allegation in line with its established systems and procedures but ACC did not find the merit of pursuing the case further and so it was closed.

She gave them all the impression that she had higher backing which she did not and she also gave them the impression that they would make major strides in their careers.

Brigadier Thinley Tobgay was told that he would stand a good chance to be the next COO. Justice Kuenlay Tshering was told his action would strengthen his chance to become the next Chief Justice after the then Chief Justice retired. She had married Drangpon Yeshey Dorji.

She commanded such influence that she made Brigadier Thinley Tobgay give her Nu 6.5 mn from RBG funds, give his personal sidearm to her and his duty Prado car was put on her duty.

Things started souring between the four of them when the Brigadier started asking Khandu for the funds back as promised.

The Drangpon mortgaged his parents’ land in Gelephu and submitted some fictional documents of shops to get the Nu 8 mn loan from RICBL. She then refunded the amount back to the Brigadier with an additional amount that the Brigadier is accused of keeping for himself.

As time dragged on and the Pemagatshel Drangpon realized he would not be getting his money back and there were other issues in the marriage, he and Khandu divorced. The Drangpon then filed a civil case in court to recover the money from her.

By then the Pemagatshel Drangpon’s friend in Judge Kuenlay Tshering also realized something was not right and he also withdrew from her.

She first tried to move against her ex-husband by trying to implicate him in a sedition case over a pamphlet with a witness coached by her.

Her ex-husband the Drangpon after winning his civil financial suit against his ex-wife approached the RBP in 2020 to file an official complaint against her for criminal conspiracy and pretending to pass orders on behalf of the higher authority.

The RBP’s investigation on the criminal conspiracy found that Khandu Wangmo was the main instigator in the criminal conspiracy case which is why she faced the maximum charges.

Khandu Wangmo is also facing a separate sedition case for seditious documents found with her.

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