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Researchers Seek Missing Children of S-21

A former Vietnamese soldier and filmmaker will arrive Saturday to help the Documentation Center of Cambodia find five child survivors of Tuol Sleng prison.

Van Tay, now 74, was a military documentary filmmaker among the Vietnamese forces that drove the Khmer Rouge from Phnom Penh in early 1979.

In the 1980s, he followed the lives of five children, filming them with their new families after they were released from the notorious Khmer Rouge prison, codenamed S-21.

Van Tay will help the Documentation Center contact the families and other sources, Youk Chhang, director of the center, said Tuesday.

“We want him to help in researching, because he can recognize where [those children lived] and other information related to the new families,” Youk Chhang said. “His participation can help find them more quickly.”

Documentation Center researchers have already met with some people who may be survivors of the prison, but they don’t have documentation to identify them, he said.

If the child survivors are found, they can shed light on the conditions of child prisoners in Tuol Sleng, he said.

“I think they can provide some necessary memory and probably they will tell us some truth at that time,” Youk Chhang said. “Their answers are very important.”

Prosecutors in January made a motion to the Trial Chamber to accept two films of 20 provided by Hanoi to the Documentation Center to be entered as evidence.

The films depict bodies of prisoners and instruments of torture, as well as images of two infants and two child survivors.

The tribunal is preparing for its first ever trial, of Kaing Kek Iev, or Duch, who faces atrocity crimes charges for his role as chief of Tuol Sleng.

The Trial Chamber will decide at the initial hearing for Duch’s trial, Feb. 17.