Top Khmer Rouge accused seeks acquittal
Former Khmer Rouge leader 'Brother Number Two' Nuon Chea in the courtroom at the ECCC in Phnom Penh on October 31, 2013
Prosecutors are demanding the maximum sentence of life imprisonment for "Brother Number Two" Nuon Chea, 87, and ex-head of state Khieu Samphan, 82, for their roles in a regime that left up to two million people dead in the late 1970s.
Nuon Chea told the country's UN-backed tribunal in closing statements that he had carried out his "duty to serve my country and my beloved people".
"Through this trial it has been shown clearly that I was not engaged in any commission of the crimes as alleged by the co-prosecutors. In short, I am innocent in relation to those allegations," he said.
The two defendants both insist they were unaware of the atrocities committed by the regime.
"I would like to express my deepest remorse and moral responsibility to victims and the Cambodian people who suffered during the Democratic Kampuchea (Khmer Rouge) regime," Nuon Chea said.
But he added that based on the evidence presented to the court, "I respectfully submit to your honours to acquit me from all the charges and accordingly release me."
Led by Pol Pot, who died in 1998, the communist Khmer Rouge regime wiped out up to a quarter of the population through executions, starvation and overwork.
The complex case of the regime's two most senior surviving leaders has been split into a series of smaller trials, initially focusing on the forced evacuation of people into rural labour camps and related charges of crimes against humanity.
The defendants deny charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, to the dismay of survivors and relatives of victims seeking an admission of guilt.
Nuon Chea said he had educated Khmer Rouge cadres "to love, respect and serve the people and the country".
"I never educated or instructed them to mistreat or kill people, to deprive them of food or commit genocide," he added.
The closing statements were scheduled to end on Thursday with a verdict expected in the first half of next year.
The allegations of genocide and war crimes are due to be heard in later hearings although no date has yet been set.
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