PHNOM PENH (AFP) – A former Khmer Rouge leader branded his conviction for crimes against humanity a “child’s fairy tale” at a UN-backed court in Cambodia Friday, as he faced further charges of genocide, forced marriage and rape.
Nuon Chea, 88, known as “Brother Number Two”, has already been given a life sentence along with ex-head of state Khieu Samphan, 83, after a separate trial at the same court in August for crimes against humanity.
That ruling saw them become the first top figures to be jailed from a regime responsible for the deaths of up to two million Cambodians from 1975-1979.
At his genocide trial Friday, Nuon Chea spoke in court for the first time since the convictions to accuse judges of ignoring his evidence in August.
“You presented a story that was simple but ultimately just a child’s fairy tale… you made a bitterly disappointing mockery of justice,” he said, reading a statement from the dock.
The ex-leader also called for the judges to be disqualified and his defence team to boycott further hearings until a decision on the subject is made.
The complex case against Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan was split into a series of smaller trials in 2011 to get a faster verdict given the vast number of accusations and their advanced age.
Both men have appealed their August convictions, which followed a two-year trial focused on the forced evacuation of around two million Cambodians from Phnom Penh into rural labour camps and murders at one execution site.
Khieu Samphan also made a statement to the court Friday, claiming his right to a fair trial had been violated.
“I know in advance that you will find me guilty and you will convict me eventually even with the current trial,” he said.
As prosecutors made their opening statements in the trial, which opened in July, around 300 regime survivors protested outside court, holding placards demanding monetary compensation for their suffering – there are no individual financial reparations under the court’s rules.