Former CNRP commune chief imprisoned for provocation

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday jailed a former commune chief of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), disbanded by the court, after he was arrested on Sunday as he tried to flee the country.

She was on the run when the court on August 10 sentenced her in absentia to 18 months in prison for incitement committed on Facebook between 2018 and 2021.

Yesterday, Lt. Col. Long Bunsong, the police officer in charge of combating terrorism and transnational crime, identified her as Kem Tola, 36, former chief of Treng Trayoeng commune, Phnom district. Sruoch, in the province of Kampong Speu.

Lt. Col. Bunsong said the accused was arrested in accordance with the court warrant.

“She was arrested on Sunday afternoon as she tried to flee to Germany by taking a flight at Phnom Penh International Airport,” he said.

He added that after her arrest, she was sent back to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, which sentenced her to serve her sentence.

Tola’s lawyer, Ket Khy, said yesterday that his client’s arrest and sentencing in absentia by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court was unjust because it was the same offense for which she had served time. sentenced by the Kampong Speu Provincial Court last year.

Khy said the Kampong Speu Provincial Court sentenced Tola to one year in prison for incitement, but that sentence was reduced to three months following an appeal.

He added that since his release, Tola had never been involved with former opposition leader Sam Rainsy or other former CNRP officials living in exile abroad.

“After her arrest, my client appealed to the court to overturn the prison sentence and review her trial because she was innocent,” Khy said. “She also appealed to the Court of Appeal because the Phnom Penh Municipal Court had charged and imprisoned her for the same offense for which the Kampong Speu Provincial Court had punished her.

Investigating Judge Khun Sona and Phnom Penh Municipal Court spokesman Plong Sophal could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Joan D. Boling