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Genocide 'was not solely fault of Pol Pot'

POL Pot's henchmen cannot blame their late leader for the atrocities that took place under Cambodia's Khmer Rouge regime, a prosecutor at the country's UN-backed genocide tribunal said.

Andrew Cayley said that like Pol Pot, the three ageing former members of the regime now on trial exercised life-and-death authority over Cambodia while in power in 1975-79.

"The accused cannot credibly claim they did not know and had no control over the crimes that occurred when the group ruled what they called Democratic Kampuchea", he said.

An estimated 1.7million people died of execution, starvation, exhaustion or lack of medical care as a result of the Khmer Rouge's radical policies, which sought to create a pure agrarian socialist society.


Cayley was speaking on the trial's second day after prosecutors related a litany of horrors.

Most of the population were forced to work on giant rural communes and deprived of any sort of private life. Forced marriages took the place of love, and dissenters were dispatched to the so-called 'killing fields'.

"These crimes were the result of an organised plan developed by the accused and other leaders and systematically implemented by the Khmer Rouge military and central and regional government bodies," Cayley said. "They cannot be blamed solely on Pol Pot as some of the accused may try."

The defendants are Nuon Chea (85), the Khmer Rouge's chief ideologist; Khieu Samphan (80), an ex-head of state; and Ieng Sary (86), the former foreign minister. All three protest their innocence.