Khieu Samphan is one of only three people convicted of the group’s brutal regime in which some two million people have died.
Khieu Samphan, Cambodia’s last surviving top Khmer Rouge leader, appealed his genocide conviction under the brutal Cambodian regime more than 40 years ago.
Khieu Samphan, 90, was the head of state of the Khmer Rouge. He was convicted in 2018 by a UN-backed tribunal on genocide charges against the Vietnamese minority.
His lawyers argued on Monday that the court had taken a “selective approach” to testimony and failed to give the appropriate weight to the evidence in its favor.
They also said the court convicted him using legal criteria he could not have known at the time the alleged crimes took place.
The Khmer Rouge, led by Pol Pot nicknamed “Brother Number 1”, took control of Cambodia in 1975. Some two million Cambodians died during their four years in power, during which they attempted to take over the country. an agrarian utopia.
Khieu Samphan was jailed alongside “brother number 2” Nuon Chea for life for genocide and a host of other crimes, including forced marriages and rape. Nuon Chea passed away in 2019.
The couple had already been sentenced to life in court in 2014 for crimes against humanity following the violent forced evacuation of Phnom Penh in April 1975, when Khmer Rouge troops led the population of the capital to rural labor camps. .
The hearing in a special courtroom in Phnom Penh is scheduled to last until Thursday and Khieu Samphan is expected to testify at the close of the appeal hearing, according to a court official.
At the conclusion of his genocide trial in 2017, he addressed the court angrily, denying the charges against him and dismissing the label of “murderer” in forceful closing remarks.
Khieu Samphan, who was one of the few public faces of the Khmer Rouge as head of state, claimed he was not part of the killing machine that wiped out nearly a quarter of the Cambodian population .
He denied responsibility for the mass killings and other abuses against Cham Muslims and ethnic Vietnamese, which were described in startling detail by more than 100 witnesses throughout the three-year trial.
Pol Pot died in 1998 without being tried.
Former Khmer Rouge Foreign Minister Ieng Sary and his wife also died before they could stand trial.
The Hybrid Court was created with UN support in 2006 to try senior Khmer Rouge leaders.
It has so far convicted only three people and has cost more than $ 300 million.
Prime Minister Hun Sen, who was also a member of the Khmer Rouge, spoke out against any new cases, saying it would create instability.