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Former Khmer Rouge leaders request acquittal at closing arguments

Two former leaders of Cambodia's Khmer Rouge [BBC backgrounder] regime, "Brother Number Two," Nuon Chea, and former president Khieu Samphan, on trial before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia [official website] requested Thursday that they be acquitted of all charges, as closing arguments in their trial began. Both are charged with mass killings [AP report] which occurred during the 1970s regime, under which more than 1.7 million people were killed. The prosecution hopes to have them sentenced quickly, fearing that the elderly defendants may die before the trial is completed. Two other defendants have been lost in the course of the two-year trial. One defendant died, and the other developed Alzheimers and was declared unfit to stand trial. Both men continue to deny the charges against them, claiming that they are being punished for simply having a close relationship with the former leader of the Khmer Rouge regime. Khieu Samphan claims that he did not have the power or the foresight to be held responsible for what happened. Nuon Chea accepted "moral responsibility" for the deaths, though he denied accountability for the actual crimes committed.

Prosecutors have requested life imprisonment [JURIST report] in the case [court materials] against the two former leaders of the Khmer Rouge. The former leaders are accused of crimes against humanity, genocide and "grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949" [text], according to the 2010 indictment [text]. Last week the ECCC began hearing [JURIST report] closing arguments in the case. A verdict is expected in the beginning of 2014.

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