Friday, 6 June 2008

Bhutan : Chorten desecrators admit culpability

5 June, 2008 - Several of the 10 people accused in the brutal desecration of Shera Dragu lhakhang and the vandalism of Kumbaa chorten in Dotey gewog, Paro, pleaded guilty to the charges submitted by the royal Bhutan police (RBP) during the opening statement of the trial on June 3.

“The trial has been witnessed by several people in a packed courtroom,” said the Paro drangpon, Lungten Dubgyur.

The accused were also involved in vandalising the Toe Pangka and Dechenphug chortens in Wangchang gewog and the theft of antiques from a private home in Paro.

Drangpon Lungten Dubgyur said that the ongoing trial revealed the admittance of guilt by several accused that two gangs were operating simultaneously, one under the supervision of Sangay Tempa of Dotey gewog and the other under Hap Tshering, a resident of Paro. “Although, the RBP could recover quite a substantial number of nangtens (sacred images), many were either sold across the border or to a local dealer by Chimi Dorji of Paro,” said drangpon Lungten Dubgyur. Chimi Dorji has also been charged with aiding and abetting and the illegal purchase or sale of antiques.

The accused also admitted that the group masterminded by Hap Tshering included Saran Kumar Chetri of Tsirang, Shiva Dungyal of Samtse and Dragu Dorji, the owner of the temple. Saran Kumar Chetri and Shiva Dungyal had robbed the Shera Dragu lhakhang on the night of October 21 last year. The caretaker (koenyer)/owner of the lhakhang, Dragu Dorji did not report the offence fearing repercussion of his own involvement in selling many nangtens to Hap Tshering prior to these robberies.

The other group, allegedly masterminded by Sangay Tempa, believed to be a former policeman, included Jigme Tshewang, Sangay Wangdi and Lobzang Tshering of Lauri gewog in Samdrup Jongkhar. They had indiscriminately destroyed several statues of Shera Dragu lhakhang and stole several nangtens on the night of February 17, 2008. The lhakhang is reported to have been built in the 16th century by Lam Choejey Jungney.

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