The Municipal Court of Phnom Penh has sentenced an airline chief executive to 10 years imprisonment, following his conviction last month for sexually abusing nine underage girls between 2011 and 2015.
Pronouncing sentence on Brian Naswall, 53, founder and chief executive of the small airline Aero Cambodia, Judge Khy Chhay ordered he be jailed for a decade. The judge further ordered that Naswall pay the mothers of six victims KHR 8 million (AUD 2665) each in compensation.
Naswall, an American who reportedly has a Cambodian wife and daughter, was arrested last year in the act of abusing one of the girls, the Phnom Penh Post reported. News agency AFP said some of the victims were as young as five. Many reports included a picture of Naswall in orange prison garb departing a prison van.
The Phnom Penh Post added that Naswall had maintained throughout the trial that he was set up by the child-protection non-governmental organisation APLE.
After sentencing, Naswall said he had not received a fair trial as he hadn’t been given legal aid and had been denied the opportunity to present evidence and call witnesses.
The Daily Mail quoted a member of his legal team saying he would appeal the ruling.
In an issued statement, APLE program director Vando Khoem welcomed the sentence but lamented that judge Chhay had not ordered Naswall’s deportation at the end of it.
According to the Phnom Penh Post, Naswall distributed his own handwritten media release after sentencing, warning foreign entrepreneurs not to invest in Cambodia and claiming to have been framed by APLE, who he accused of abducting children to use as false witnesses.
APLE says Naswall’s allegations are “totally untrue” the paper added.
Judging from its online presence, Aero Cambodia appears to operate joyrides and sightseeing flights in very light aircraft around Siem Reap. The Phnom Penh Post called it a “small domestic airline” and AFP called it “a small aviation firm based in Phnom Penh”.
Written by Peter Needham