"Whatever has been indicated in the opening statements is not true. My position in the revolution was to serve the interest of the nation and the people," said Nuon Chea, seen as the regime's chief ideologue.
Opening statements began Monday in the long-awaited trial in Phnom Penh of "Brother Number Two" Nuon Chea, along with former head of state Khieu Samphan and ex-foreign minister Ieng Sary.
All deny charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide over the deaths of up to two million people during the Khmer Rouge's 1975-79 reign of terror.
Led by "Brother Number One" Pol Pot, who died in 1998, the communist regime emptied cities, abolished money and religion and wiped out nearly a quarter of Cambodia's population in a bid to create an agrarian utopia.
International co-prosecutor Andrew Cayley earlier told the court that Nuon Chea and his two co-defendants were "thieves of time" and "common murderers" of a whole generation of Cambodians.
"No one in this country is left unhurt or unaffected by what these three elderly men have done," Cayley said.
Nuon Chea showed no emotion as he was confronted with a dramatic short video clip, filmed within the last decade, in which he defended the regime's bloody purges and called the victims "traitors".
Prosecutors showed the packed court the footage of Nuon Chea, taken from the 2009 documentary "Enemies of the People", to support their claim that the movement had a policy of killing enemies and those it regarded as disloyal.
"If these traitors were alive, the Khmers as a people would have been finished so I dare to suggest our decision was the right one," Nuon Chea calmly tells a Cambodian journalist in the clip.
"If we had shown mercy to the people, the nation would have been lost."
–Photo by MARK PETERS