Historical reports have long held that, of the tens of thousands of people imprisoned at Tuol Sleng, only a handful made it out alive. But documents newly analyzed by DC-Cam suggest that as many as 177 prisoners may have been released from the torture center.
Around 100 of those were Khmer Rouge soldiers taken to S21 in 1977 and released three days later, according to the Associated Press. It is unclear why they were brought there in the first place.
DC-Cam's discovery is truly striking and could have an impact on cases before the tribunal. It certainly challenges widely held beliefs about Tuol Sleng. Even in their recent indictment of Comrade Duch, ECCC judges wrote that no prisoners were released from S21 and those brought there by mistake were executed to maintain secrecy.
The documents also raise a number of questions. How can it be that no one heard of these other survivors before? Are any still alive? If so, why haven't they spoken out? And, most relevant to the tribunal, do they have any evidence to offer to the court?