Ex-CNRP Commune Chief Kim Tola Arrested for Incitement Conviction

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CNRP vice president Mu Sochua and former Treng Trayoeng commune chief Kim Tola, in a photo posted to Tola’s Facebook page in July 2015.
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Former Kampong Speu commune chief Kim Tola was arrested trying to fly out of Phnom Penh for travel on Sunday over an incitement conviction from August.

Tola, who was an opposition chief of Phnom Sruoch district’s Treng Trayoeng commune, previously served a one-year sentence for incitement after returning from Thailand in July last year. That older case related to support for the exiled co-founder of her party, the CNRP’s Sam Rainsy.

This July, Tola was part of a new incitement case against several CNRP members and supporters, though the evidence presented during the trial included Facebook posts from 2018 and 2019 criticizing Prime Minister Hun Sen and the king.

Tola and the others were convicted in August and sentenced to 18 months in jail.

Tola’s lawyer Ket Khy said on Monday that National Police officers had arrested the former commune chief when she went to the Phnom Penh International Airport to travel to Germany to meet her husband.

Tola had not realized she was wanted by police, and when airport officials inspected her passport they found that she was on a blacklist, Khy said.

The defense lawyer said he would argue that the charge was similar to the one for which she had already served time, and that the newer charge had been filed while she was in prison. “So she did not do any activity, she did not commit any wrongdoing,” he argued.

He added that he had only begun representing Tola now, and did not know about the circumstances of this year’s conviction and whether Tola had been summoned. But if she knew about it, she could have filed an appeal, he said.

Tola was sent to Phnom Penh’s Prey Sar Prison on Monday, he said.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court spokesman Y Rin and the spokesman for the prosecution, Plang Sophal, declined to comment.

Tola’s sister Kim Setha said she believed the arrest was politically motivated.

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