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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - KR tribunal prosecutors move to include S-21 films as evidence

KR tribunal prosecutors move to include S-21 films as evidence

VIETNAMESE film footage showing the interior of Tuol Sleng prison just days after the 1979 toppling of the Khmer Rouge and the rescue of infants detained there should be held in evidence at the upcoming trial of the detention centre's former chief, Kaing Guek Eav, prosecutors at the Khmer Rouge tribunal said.

The Documentation Centre of Cambodia (DC-Cam), which has collected primary materials for use as evidence at the UN-backed court, obtained 470 minutes of archival film shot between 1973 and 1984 from the Vietnamese government in late December, a week after prosecutors had already submitted the list of exhibits they planned to use during the trial.

In a pleading released to media Friday, prosecutors Yet Chakriya and William Smith argued  the new evidence was admissible under the special court's rules, as it had not been discovered until after the deadline.

The films include segments of prison cells, restraint devices and corpses, and are "the only film footage known to have been taken of Tuol Sleng that close in time to the period when it was used as a [Khmer Rouge] prison, which makes this evidence particularly important and probative," they said.

The footage is especially salient to corroborate the charge that children were detained in the gruesome prison along with their parents, they added.

Haunting images

International Co-prosecutor William Smith told the Post Sunday the footage was not critical to the determination of the case but would be "particularly powerful" for audiences, given its live nature that "doesn't suffer from memory loss."

Youk Chhang, DC-Cam's director who travelled to Vietnam to obtain the film reels, said the footage could have a profound effect on the courtroom, as "video is the most powerful medium because it's live; it speaks for itself".

However, Ka Savuth, Duch's co-lawyer, said Sunday the footage presented no new accusations and therefore would not affect the case against his client.

Court public affairs officer Helen Jarvis said screens had previously been installed inside the trial chamber and in the galleries in case film is shown as evidence.

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