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Cambodia war crimes court charges former Khmer Rouge leader with genocide

[JURIST] The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) [official website] on Friday charged Khieu Samphan [Trial Watch profile; JURIST news archive], the former head of state during the Khmer Rouge [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] regime, with genocide for his involvement in the deaths of thousands of Vietnamese and ethnic Cham Muslims. While not denying the killings took place, Samphan has denied culpability [BBC report], saying he was not directly responsible. Samphan also faces domestic charges [AFP report] including torture, religious persecution, and murder. Samphan had previously been charged [order, PDF; JURIST report] with war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Samphan is the third member of the Khmer Rouge to be charged with genocide [JURIST report] this week. Former deputy leader and chief ideologist Nuon Chea and foreign minister Ieng Sary [Trial Watch profiles] were charged [case materials] with genocide on Wednesday in connection with crimes allegedly committed against Vietnamese people and ethnic Cham Muslims. Both defendants have already been charged with breaches of the Geneva Convention [ICRC backgrounder] and crimes against humanity. The Khmer Rouge is generally held responsible for the genocide of an estimated 1.7 million Cambodians [PPU backgrounder] who died between 1975 and 1979.

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