Genocide? What genocide? Ex-Khmer Rouge leader in denial

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Khieu Samphan, one of the two surviving top leaders of the 1975-79 Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, in his final statements in the second case before a United Nations.backed tribunal in Phnom Penh, angrily denied genocide charges and rejected being labelled a “murderer” of his own people.

The 85-year-old Khmer Rouge’s former head of state denied responsibility for killings and other abuses that were described in chilling detail by more than 100 witnesses throughout the trial. It is believed that around 1.7 million Cambodians died under the Khmer Rouge from deliberate mass killings, malnutrition and torture or from exhaustion or disease in labour camps.

“I didn’t know about these issues,” he said, adding that the “idea of Cambodian genocide” was “invented by Vietnam” which invaded Cambodia in 1979 and ousted the Khmer Rouge from power.

“The Communist People of Kampuchea leaders did not exterminate our people. What was the interest in so doing?”, he added, arguing that Vietnam brought up the notion of genocide as propaganda to justify their invasion with the “blessing of the current Cambodian leaders,” apparently referring to incumbent Prime Minister Hun Sen.

“Vietnam has never cooperated with this tribunal and finally it has invented the unacceptable idea of the Cambodian genocide,” he said.

The other defendant, Nuon Chea (90), known as “Brother Number Two” behind Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot, declined to deliver a closing statement and watched the proceedings from a court holding cell due to his frail health. But his lawyer told the court that Nuon Chea believed he was part of a “show trial”.

“Nuon Chea couldn’t care less if you convict him again to a life sentence… he doesn’t take this institution seriously,” said defense lawyer Victor Koppe, a Dutch lawyer who is known for his defense of perpetrators in cases including in the Rwanda genocide, war crimes in the Sierra Leona-Liberia war and the Balkan Wars, as well as a defense lawyer for insurgent groups such as the Turkish PKK, the Basque ETA and the Tamil Tigers, and for jihadists.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Khieu Samphan, one of the two surviving top leaders of the 1975-79 Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, in his final statements in the second case before a United Nations.backed tribunal in Phnom Penh, angrily denied genocide charges and rejected being labelled a “murderer” of his own people.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Khieu Samphan, one of the two surviving top leaders of the 1975-79 Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, in his final statements in the second case before a United Nations.backed tribunal in Phnom Penh, angrily denied genocide charges and rejected being labelled a “murderer” of his own people.

The 85-year-old Khmer Rouge’s former head of state denied responsibility for killings and other abuses that were described in chilling detail by more than 100 witnesses throughout the trial. It is believed that around 1.7 million Cambodians died under the Khmer Rouge from deliberate mass killings, malnutrition and torture or from exhaustion or disease in labour camps.

“I didn’t know about these issues,” he said, adding that the “idea of Cambodian genocide” was “invented by Vietnam” which invaded Cambodia in 1979 and ousted the Khmer Rouge from power.

“The Communist People of Kampuchea leaders did not exterminate our people. What was the interest in so doing?”, he added, arguing that Vietnam brought up the notion of genocide as propaganda to justify their invasion with the “blessing of the current Cambodian leaders,” apparently referring to incumbent Prime Minister Hun Sen.

“Vietnam has never cooperated with this tribunal and finally it has invented the unacceptable idea of the Cambodian genocide,” he said.

The other defendant, Nuon Chea (90), known as “Brother Number Two” behind Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot, declined to deliver a closing statement and watched the proceedings from a court holding cell due to his frail health. But his lawyer told the court that Nuon Chea believed he was part of a “show trial”.

“Nuon Chea couldn’t care less if you convict him again to a life sentence… he doesn’t take this institution seriously,” said defense lawyer Victor Koppe, a Dutch lawyer who is known for his defense of perpetrators in cases including in the Rwanda genocide, war crimes in the Sierra Leona-Liberia war and the Balkan Wars, as well as a defense lawyer for insurgent groups such as the Turkish PKK, the Basque ETA and the Tamil Tigers, and for jihadists.

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