A former member of a Marxist group that seized control of Ethiopia in the 1970s in a bloody purge known as the Red Terror has apologized for the regime's many crimes but denied personal responsibility.

In a dramatic confrontation Thursday with survivors in a Dutch courtroom nearly 40 years after his alleged crimes, 63-year-old Eshetu Alemu accepted blame for the crimes of the Marxist rulers known as the Dergue, but insisted he did not carry out the crimes for which he is being held responsible by Dutch war crimes prosecutors.

Alemu, a longtime resident of the Netherlands, is charged with war crimes including involvement in torturing prisoners to death under the brutal 1974-1991 Dergue regime of former dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam. He faces a maximum life sentence if convicted.