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Soldier Defends Tuol Sleng Film

A Vietnamese soldier and cameraman defended as “true” a film he shot of Tuol Sleng prison during the ouster of the Khmer Rouge, which could be used as evidence in tribunal proceedings.

Ding Phong, now 71, shot footage of Tuol Sleng prison as Vietnamese forces liberated Phnom Penh in Januray 1979, but the film has come under criticism from defense lawyers for former Khmer Rouge leaders facing atrocity crimes trials.

“The documentary shot in Tuol Sleng is true,” Dinh Phong said Thursday, before returning to Vietnam after a six-day visit to Cambodia to deliver his film to researchers. “What we shot 30 years ago is the truth.”

Lawyers for Khmer Rouge prison chief Duch, who is the first to face trial under the tribunal, said the films were not unbiased.

“This is a documentary which has a political character,” said Kar Savuth, an attorney for Duch, or Kaing Kek Iev, who saw his initial trial hearing this week. “It cannot be used [as evidence] in the trial.”

“What he mentioned is an accusation,” Dinh Phongsaid, denying the political assertion.

Tribunal prosecutor Chea Leang has requested that two Vietnamese filmmakers, who have donated their films to the Documentation Center of Cambodia, be brought before the Trial Chamber of the Khmer Rouge tribunal, to defend their work.

Dinh Phong said Thursday he would only answer questions outside the court.