OAG appeals for life imprisonment in Haa Murder Case

Sonam Deki/ Thimphu In the murder case last year in Haa, the Haa court sentenced the accused to nearly 27 years in prison; the Official of the Attorney General appealed to sentence the accused to life imprisonment. According to sources, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) appealed to the High Court to sentence the convict to life imprisonment. Haa court, on May 28, sentenced Kinley Gyeltshen, a 33-year-old from Goenshari, Punakha, to 26 and a half years in prison for murdering his mother-in-law in Kipri under Uesu gewog. The convict was given an additional one and a half-year prison term for not in the position to pay the compensation. The convict has to pay compensatory damage at the daily minimum national wage rate for a maximum of ten years to the surviving spouse and the cost for forty-nine days for seven people towards the expenses incurred in the funeral rites of the deceased victim. The compensation amounted to Nu 492,875. The accused violated section 138 (A) of the Penal Code of Bhutan (PCB), which states that the defendant shall be found guilty of the offence of murder if the defendant commits a homicide knowingly and deliberately with premeditated malice. As per PCB, section 130, the offence of murder shall be a felony of the first degree where the defendant convicted shall be sentenced to a minimum of 15 years in prison, and a maximum shall be life imprisonment. The verdict states that although such convicts are expected to undergo life imprisonment elsewhere, such convicts remain in prison between 14 to 25 years and are sent on parole if the convicts' undergo positive reforms to benefit society. Without such an option in the country, the court invokes a universal principle, the Doctrine of Lenity—that requires the court to rule in favour of the more lenient punishment when there are inconsistencies in penalties. The court sentenced the convict to 25 years prison term so that when he turns 57, he could benefit both himself and society. The suspect was imprisoned on October 24 last year after the deceased's brother reported the case two days after suspecting foul play against the suspect. The cause of the death was earlier registered as an accident. The convict hit his mother-in-law on the head with a spade and killed her.