Khmer Rouge leaders deliver closing defense at trial

Cambodia: Former Khmer Rouge leader refutes genocide charges, 'murderer' label

Former Khmer Rouge leader denies role in Cambodian genocide

Former Khmer Rouge leader head of state Khieu Samphan (C) denies being part of the killing machine that decimated almost a quarter of Cambodia's population.

(AP Photo/Heng Sinith). So Socheath, front left, wife of former Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan, walks into the court room before the hearings against two former Khmer Rouge senior leaders, at the United Nations -backed war crimes tribunal on the outskirt. The men are charged with a range of crimes including genocide, murder, rape and enslavement.

The 85-year-old Khieu Samphan, casually dressed in a white shirt and tan windbreaker jacket, delivered his closing remarks in front of the United Nations -assisted tribunal where he and a colleague are also accused of responsibility for implementing policies leading to murder and rape, among other crimes.

Khieu Samphan repeated that on Friday saying Vietnam had invented the notion of genocide as propaganda to justify their invasion with the "blessing of the current Cambodian leaders".

Former president Khieu Samphan, 85, and Khmer Rouge "Brother Number Two" Nuon Chea, 90, face charges of crimes against humanity and genocide in the second case before a UN-backed tribunal known as the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. His lawyer Victor Koppe delivered remarks saying that his client regarded the tribunal as a "show trial' and "victor's justice".

The pair were handed life sentences in 2014 after convictions over the forced evacuation of around two million Cambodians from Phnom Penh into rural labour camps and murders at one execution site. Also separately convicted earlier was the head of the Khmer Rouge prison system who ran a torture center in Phnom Penh.

Ever since, the Khmer Rouge have blamed Vietnam for the disaster of their rule.

Cambodians have always been suspicious of their much bigger eastern neighbor, and prejudice against Vietnamese is widespread.

The men are the two most senior living members of the radical Maoist group that seized control of Cambodia in 1975 and carried out some of the worst atrocities of the 20th century.

Cambodian villagers line up to enter a courtroom before the hearings against two former Khmer Rouge senior leaders, at the United Nations -backed war crimes tribunal on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Friday, June 23, 2017.

Khieu Samphan sounded another familiar theme in also casting blame on the United States for Cambodia's problems.

The hybrid court, which uses a mix of Cambodian and worldwide law, was created in 2006 to try senior Khmer Rouge leaders.

"I want to bow to the memory of all the innocent victims but also to all those who perished by believing in a better ideal of the brighter future and who died during the five-year war under the American bombardments and (in) the conflict with the Vietnamese invaders", Khieu Samphan said. Critics of the US action charge that the intensive bombing radicalized Cambodian peasants and served as a recruiting tool for the Khmer Rouge. "Their memory will never be honored by any worldwide tribunal".

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