As a trial for jailed prison chief Duch draws nearer, teams
for the Documentation Center of Cambodia will begin searching for some 170
survivors of Tuol Sleng prison.
The center's director, Youk Chhang, said Friday about 177
prisoners were released from Tuol Sleng, which was headed by Duch, between 1975
In finding survivors of the prison, the center hopes to
bolster the cases against Duch, whose real name is Kaing Kek Iev, for civil
parties in the case.
The idea for the search stemmed from
an indictment of Duch that was issued earlier this month that did not mention
"What is the reason that the co-prosecutors did not
include this case in the closing order of Duch?" Youk Chhang said.
"Then we thought, we will do historical research, and we want to know
further why 177 prisoners were released."
According the center, the prisoners were arrested from
Kampong Thom, Kandal, Kampong Cham, Kampong Speu, and other provinces, and
then released, between 1975 to 1977.
Some of them were accused of links to the CIA, while others
stood accused of loving a forbidden partner. Other charges included attempts to
steal the motorcycles of Khmer Rouge cadre and other infractions against the secretive regime.
"In the closing order, co-investigating judges did not
mention this, and it seems that in the closing order all people who were
detained have been killed," Youk Chhang said. "Indeed, some of them
The center will begin sending teams into the provinces next
week in search of the survivors, in hopes of interviewing them and learning why
they were released. Documents indicate they were released at the recommendation of other Khmer Rouge cadre.
Co-investigating judge You Bunleng said Friday the center
had a right to investigate.
"This is their affair. I cannot give further comment
before the plenary trial," he said, adding that investigating judges do
not give full details of the csae in their closing orders.
Some documents of the center have already been used by civil
party and defense lawyers.
"We think that all the work of NGOs that provides
interest in the [tribunal] will provide interest to our citizens," tribunal
spokesman Reach Sambath said.
Only 10 Tuol Sleng survivors have so far been discovered,
and most of those have already died.