By Lobsang Wangyal
ON THE WEB, 16 June 2019
In the second hearing of Penpa Tsering’s defamation lawsuit, known as Case no 20, on Saturday, the Chief Justice of the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission presented a review of the case based on what has been argued and presented by both the plaintiff and the defendant so far.
The 10-point charges which had been made by the Cabinet to justify Penpa Tsering’s dismissal have been differentiated into ‘Legal issues’ and ‘Issues of fact’. Two of the ten are legal issues: One is that of the Cabinet issuing the 10-point charges after announcing Penpa Tsering’s dismissal, and the other is related to the USD-1.5-million property deal.
Plaintiff Penpa Tsering pointed out that issuing the charges after the dismissal order infringes Rule 53 of the Central Tibetan Administration’s staff discipline and governing rules.
With regard to the USD 1.5 million from Tibet Fund used to purchase the DC office building, the Cabinet had explained that it was not a loan, but an amount that Tibet Fund had contributed for the purchase of the property, and did not expect to be repaid.
Penpa Tsering’s argument is that there were documents showing the amount as a loan from Tibet Fund, and that there could be accounting complications in the future. Speaking to the media after the second hearing, he explained that he is not asking the CTA to pay back the 1.5 million to Tibet Fund.
Due to differences in their arguments related to the various issues in the 10 points, the court asked both the parties to present evidence by 19 June for this second hearing, which concerns the framing of the issues.
Apart from their lawyer, defendant Lobsang Sangay and his Cabinet were also represented at this hearing by Minister Choekyong Wangchuk, Cabinet Secretary Tsegyal Chukya Dranyi, former Cabinet Secretary Topgyal Tsering, and Under-Secretary Tenzin Phuntsok. It has been learned that Topgyal Tsering is the adviser to the Cabinet for the case. In the first hearing, only lawyer Lobsang Dakpa represented CTA President Lobsang Sangay and the Cabinet.
Plaintiff Penpa Tsering and his lawyer Namgyal Tsekey were both present for the second hearing.
Explaining the court’s refusal to grant the three months’ time requested by the defendant lawyer in the first hearing on 5 June, Chief Justice Kargyu Dhondup said that much time had already been given to the defendant. He deplored the defendant lawyer’s behaviour in asking the court to refer to the statement he had already presented instead of giving specific answers to court’s questions.