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Bhutan: Rebuttal to Tandin's appeal

27 October 2014

Rebuttal to Tandin's appeal

The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) is scheduled to present their rebuttal to Tandin's appeal today.

Tandin presented his written appeal to the Samtse District Court on 20 October.

"The honorable judge has yet to study Tandin's case," said Nengboi, Tandin's wife and mother of their three sons. "His last submission [of appeal] was technically strong."

The judge has given Tandin and the OAG another round of presentation of written rebuttals. This means Tandin will have to attend two or three more hearings.

Please Pray:

  • For peace and provision for Tandin and his family
  • That God will anoint Tandin's words as he speaks in court and give him discernment and wisdom
  • For the court to come to a favourable decision
  • That Tandin would find a trustworthy lawyer to represent him if the Office of the Assembly General decides to further escalate the case.


Appeal pushed back

15 October 2014

Tandin's hearing has been rescheduled to 20 October.

"I'm hoping that the judge will reduce my sentence to a bailable term," Tandin says. "I don't think that the hearing will take as long as the one in Dorokha local court."


Tandin to appeal prison sentence

9 October 2014

Tandin will appear before the Samtse Higher Court on Monday 13 October, appealing his sentence of three years and 11 months in prison. If it is not possible to overturn the verdict, it is hoped that his sentence will be reduced to two years, and that he will be granted bail for the entire jail term.

"This is the first time a Bhutanese Christian has gotten this far legally," says Tandin. "In all the court proceedings, I have represented myself. I've read the constitution and studied our laws. It is very hard to find a non-biased lawyer in Bhutan."

Tandin will bring his wife, Nengboi, and three sons to court for this appeal.

"The whole process is taking its toll on my children," says Tandin. "I usually am the one who guides and tutors my sons for school, but because I've been away a lot more often due to my detention and hearings, I have been distracted. My eldest has failed his midterms and might not be able to move forward to the next grade. I need to be there for my sons. It's tough for my wife. She already has a lot on her hands."

Nengboi says if the court will allow her to speak, she will also plead for her family. "He'll be in jail for almost four years," she says. "That's an awfully long time. When Tandin was first detained for almost two months in Samtse, the children kept on looking for him and I couldn't bear to tell them the truth. Four years without him would be difficult. I am afraid, but God is my peace. God is my comfort."

Tandin lives in the capital city Thimphu, so he and his family will have to travel for two days to reach the court in Samtse district. They will leave for the court appearance on Saturday 11 October.

"I have never valued freedom this much," says Tandin. "I will make use of this temporary freedom the best way I can."

Answer to prayer

Tandin remained in prison for four nights after he received his guilty verdict last month. On the fourth night, he was praying and had a vision of an angel leading him by the hand out of his prison cell; the next day he was allowed to post bail and go home to prepare for his appeal.

"Thank you for all your prayer support," Tandin said. "I am speechless and have no words to thank my Jesus. Only he knows what I went through those four nights in Samtse Central Jail. If it was not for his grace and peace, I probably would have collapsed."


Tandin released on bail

16 September 2014

Tandin was released on bail on 15 September, after spending five days in Samtse prison. He is returning to his family in the capital city of Thimphu, and will submit his appeal on 22 September.

The court may choose to drag out the case against Tandin in order to harass him and his family. If the court does not overturn the guilty verdict, Tandin will spend three years and eleven months in prison. It is unlikely that his guilty verdict will be overturned.

David was released on 12 September after paying his fine.


Pastors found guilty

11 September 2014

Bhutanese pastors Mon Thapa (also known as David Lobzang) and Tandin Wangyal were given a guilty verdict by Dorokha Court's presiding judge on 10 September.

Tandin has been sentenced to three years and eleven months in prison without bail. He has been charged with soliciting funds from the public for personal gain. "I am already handed to the police now for detention," said Tandin in a text message. "I may not be able to communicate after this [message]."

David was given a shorter sentence of two years and four months. David could pay a fine of 98,800 Ngultrum (around £1,000) instead, but he will be detained until he is able to pay the fine.

Tandin has ten days to submit his appeal. "Chances are slim," said a local source. "This sad development has really shaken everyone. My mother and the other women of our church will visit Tandin's family."

Tandin and David previously spent 49 days in police custody in Samtse after a neighbor complained about a conference they were holding in a house church in Dorokha in March. They were released on bail on 22 April, charged with conducting a gathering for religious purpose without prior approval, showing a film without certificate of approval, and collecting 'illegal funds'. A second charge sheet was later levied against Tandin, accusing him of receiving funds from the public for his personal gain.

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