The final surviving senior chief of Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge has denied ever committing any crimes towards humanity saying he solely ever wished “independence and sovereignty” for his nation.
Khieu Samphan, 90, is interesting a conviction of genocide dedicated through the regime’s brutal rule greater than 40 years in the past.
A part of Pol Pot’s inside circle and former head of state, he was discovered responsible of genocide towards a Vietnamese minority by a UN-backed courtroom in 2018.
Talking on the finish of the enchantment listening to in Cambodia’s capital, he denied any involvement.
“I declare that I can’t settle for the accusation that I used to be concerned in a plot to commit crimes towards my compatriots together with the Cham and the Vietnamese,” he mentioned.
“After a few years sitting as a defendant on the finish of this lengthy case it will be important for me to tell you, and particularly inform the Cambodian folks, that I by no means wished to commit a criminal offense towards my compatriots or towards anybody else.”
The Khmer Rouge beneath Pol Pot, who was often known as “Brother Quantity One”, dominated Cambodia with an iron fist between 1975 and 1979.
It’s estimated 1.7 million Cambodians died through the three years and eight months they had been in energy as they pursued their imaginative and prescient of turning the nation into an agrarian utopia.
Survivors have described it as a interval marked by terror, the place dissent could possibly be deadly and the place hunger and compelled labour ended many lives.
Many victims had been buried in mass graves on the nation’s infamous “killing fields”.
In 2018, along with genocide, Khieu Samphan was discovered responsible of a spread of crimes towards humanity and conflict crimes together with compelled marriages and rape.
He was jailed for all times alongside, “Brother Quantity Two”, Nuon Chea who died in 2019.
Khieu Samphan was primarily convicted beneath the precept of joint felony enterprise, beneath which people may be held chargeable for the actions of the group to which they belong.
His defence workforce has argued there have been procedural errors within the unique Extraordinary Chambers within the Courts of Cambodia trial and challenged the proof towards him, denying he had ordered others to commit crimes.
At first of proceedings lawyer Kong Sam Onn instructed the Supreme Court docket judges they need to dismiss the earlier judgment as “null and void”, claiming his consumer had been denied the precise to a good trial.
Carrying a face masks and sitting to deal with the courtroom as proceedings drew to an in depth, the accused claimed he was being punished as a proxy for the novel communist regime.
“The trial chamber has demonstrated its incapability to adjudicate me impartially,” he mentioned, “It’s clear that by means of me, the chamber was, reasonably, concentrating on the Communist Celebration of Kampuchea.”
The prosecution refute this saying the proof was “intensive, numerous and compelling”.
Additionally they argued Khieu Samphan was described as Pol Pot’s “shadow” and declare his shut affiliation with these on the very prime and his personal senior function meant he had data of the choices and orders being made.
The long-running tribunal has to date solely reached responsible verdicts towards three prime members of the regime with a number of dying whereas on trial or earlier than indictments had been made.
A last judgment in as we speak’s enchantment is predicted in 2022.
Even when Khieu Samphan’s genocide conviction is overturned, he’s already serving a life sentence for crimes towards humanity following a responsible verdict at a trial in 2014, upheld in 2016 following an enchantment.
At present, he instructed the courtroom he was solely ever motivated by a want to safe independence and sovereignty for his nation whereas acknowledging he would possible by no means be free of jail.
“It doesn’t matter what you resolve I’ll die in jail, I’ll die at all times remembering the struggling of my Cambodian folks,” he mentioned.