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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Up to 200 children's deaths at S-21 unrecorded: staffer

Up to 200 children's deaths at S-21 unrecorded: staffer

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A man tours the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, where a flower from a previous visitor hangs in the window of a former cell. Witness Sous Thy, 58, testified on Monday that up to 200 children detained there were not fully processed before they were killed.

Witness says Tuol Sleng child prisoners were not fully processed.

AFORMER staffer at Tuol Sleng prison told Cambodia's war crimes court Monday that up to 200 children jailed with their parents were not photographed or fully processed before they were killed.

Sous Thy, 58, who registered prisoners at the notorious detention facility, told the tribunal that he believed between 100 and 200 children were sent to the prison.

"Children who were sent to the Tuol Sleng office were seen coming along with their parents," Sous Thy said. "There was a list of children. Their biographies were not processed or obtained, and they were not being photographed, either."

Sous Thy, who was called as a witness in the trial of his former boss, prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, said prisoners were handcuffed and blindfolded when they were brought to the prison and officially registered.

"Once the prisoners were brought into the room or cell, I made a brief biography. I had to register which room they were detained in and in which building in order to combine them on a list," he said.

Sous Thy said the prison would normally receive about 20 detainees at a time, though he said occasionally that number rose above 60 and sometimes as high as 100.

"I was asked to be on alert 24 hours a day because the prisoners came at various times, sometimes in the morning, sometimes in the afternoon and sometimes in the evening," he said, adding that "special" prisoners did not come straight to him.

S-21 staff lived in fear
Another witness, Kok Sros, who worked as a guard at Tuol Sleng for four years, told the tribunal Monday that he personally suffered during the regime.

"I suffered, of course, during the time I spent there, but I had no choice and could not flee," he said.

Answering questions put by Judge Jean-Marc Lavergne, Kok Sros said the suffering endured at S-21 "was tremendous because we had to work hard, every one of us suffered, and we had no choice".

He noted, though, that prisoners suffered more than the staff, and that he had refused to help many detainees.

"I just did my best to survive," he said, adding that he heard prisoners screaming from the rooms in which they were interrogated.

Duch rejected the testimony of Kok Sros, saying there was not enough evidence to confirm that he was who he claimed to be.

"The testimony of Kok Sros is not clear," Duch told the chamber. "I am not convinced that Kok Sros is a former guard at S-21."

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