An American man charged with procuring child prostitution for allegedly paying girls to touch his genitals denied the charges following a hearing at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday, while his lawyer asked for the charge to be downgraded.
Brian Naswall, 53, the CEO of Phnom Penh-based aviation firm Aero Cambodia, was arrested on May 22 last year on Koh Pich island, allegedly in the act of having a 13-year-old girl touch his genitals in the presence of two other girls. Another six girls have joined the case to testify against Mr. Naswall.
“Did you let the girls touch your genitals?” Presiding Judge Khy Chhay asked Mr. Naswall in court.
“No. It was a public garden and an open place,” the defendant responded, explaining that he had taken the three girls on an excursion to the island and one of them was going to the bathroom when police arrested him outside.
Deputy prosecutor Hor Lina called for the charges to be upheld. The defendant’s lawyer, Mong Vimean Champa, called for the charge of procuring child prostitution to be changed to the lesser crime of indecent assault.
Ms. Vimean Champa argued that the alleged victims had made a profession out of performing sexual acts on foreigners.
“So there is no forcing anyone, and it is also not my client’s fault alone,” she said.
Following the hearing, however, Mr. Naswall said the whole case was fabricated.
“It’s a complete miscarriage of justice. It’s a complete scam, a fraud,” he said, claiming that the anti-pedophile organization APLE and authorities had set him up.
“All the witnesses say the same thing: ‘He gave us money to touch his penis,’” he said. “Every one is the same, a total lie.”
Lao Lin, chief of the juvenile protection office in the Interior Ministry’s anti-human trafficking department, said the case against Mr. Naswall was solid.
“We made a red-handed arrest at Koh Pich with three girl victims,” he said. “After the arrest, we found some other children involved in this case.”