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Khmer Rouge Leader Denies Responsibility for Atrocities

  • VOA News

FILE - In this photo released by the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, Nuon Chea, left, and Khieu Samphan listen to the verdict upholding their life sentences, Nov. 23, 2016.

One of the two surviving leaders of Cambodia's infamous Khmer Rouge has denied he had anything to do with the group's atrocities.

Former president Khieu Samphan, who is 85, delivered his final statement Friday to the U.N.-backed tribunal in Cambodia.

He is charged with crimes against humanity and genocide.

"The term 'murder,' I categorically reject it," Khieu Samphan said.He said the "idea of Cambodian genocide" was invented by Vietnam to justify its invasion of Cambodia.

Nuon Chea, who is 90, faces the same charges as Khieu, but was not in court Friday because of his poor health. Instead, he watched the proceedings from a holding cell.

The pair are the two most senior living members of Khmer Rouge.

Both maintain Vietnam was responsible for killing nearly two million people through a variety of measures, including starvation, torture, and the sheer exhaustion of labor camps.Others were bludgeoned to death in mass executions in what has become known as "killing fields."

It was not immediately clear when a verdict willbe handed down in the case.

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