A Buddhist Monk in Bhutan has been arrested for smuggling tobacco into the country. Tobacco based products have been illegal in Bhutan since 2005. Jigm Dorji, a state sponsored Buddhist Monk was found with two kilos of tobacco and was arrested for possession with intent to supply. The minimum sentence for this crime is five years.
Dorji is said to be quite pleased with sentence.
"He has a five foot square cell in which to sleep at his monastery high in the mountains," said a close friend. "In prison he'll have a ten foot square cell all to himself, with a mattress and a television."
Local authorities are at a loss as to what to do with Dorji.
"Prison is meant to be a punishment," said Singye Wangchuck, head of the narcotics division in Thimphu. "We've never had to arrest a monk before. Prison will be like a holiday camp to Dorji, even though our prisons are rated quite badly on the international humanitarian scale. He has actually asked for the maximum sentence for possession with intent to supply, which stands at twenty-five years."
Local judges do not want to reward Dorji for his transgressions, but nor do they want to set him free as tobacco smugglers will see monks as a great route for getting cigarettes into Bhutan should they do this, and the monasteries might see a lucrative sideline in growing their own for sale, similar to the way that British monasteries are used to make ale to supplement their income.
"We can't even give Dorji community service," said Wangchuck. "Monks in Bhutan already do that day after day, so he'll be kind of carrying on as normal. We might just hand him over to his abbot for appropriate punishment. Even this may not be the perfect solution. Because he is Buddhist, the punishment would probably be smoking his way through the entire consignment, which he'd probably also enjoy. It's a poser."
Dorji for his part is unrepentant, which is unusual for a monk. "It's been a gas," he said. "I might start smuggling donkeys next."