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Cambodia may extradite French architect to China in Bo Xilai case

Reuters
3 min

A French architect has been arrested in Cambodia apparently at the request of Chinese authorities in connection with the scandal over high-profile politician Bo Xilai and his wife Gu Kailai. Paris has asked Phnom Penh not to hand over 52-year-old Patrick Devillers, without a clear legal reason for doing so.

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"We have made clear that we will be watchful that no legal action of any kind be brought against him unless its legal basis has been clearly established," French foreign ministry spokesperson Bernard Valero said Wednesday.

China and Cambodia signed an extradition treaty in 2000 that apparently includes foreign nationals but a Cambodian official said no decision had been made about what to do with the Frenchman.

"In Cambodia he did not commit any wrongdoing," interior ministry spokesperson Khieu Sopheak told the AFP news agency. "If there is no clear evidence he will be freed."

China refused to confirm or deny that it has asked for Devillers’ extradition.

Devillers, who was arrested earlier this month according to police, was a friend of Bo and Gu in the 1990s when they were running the city of Dalian and worked on encouraging foreign investment there.

In the run-up to a national leadership transition, Bo, who had gone on to lead the megacity of Chongqing, fell from grace after being accused of corruption. His wife is now detained over alleged involvement in the death of British businessman Neil Heywood last year.

Devillers, who speaks Chinese and was married to a Chinese woman, is believed to have left China in 2005, according to Le Monde newspaper, which interviewed him in May.

He denied having transferred money for Bo and family but admitted having been among the couple’s “foreign friends”. He said that he had accompanied their son, Bo Guagua, to Britain where he was studying but “never for money”.

Devillers' arrest came after a 13 June visit by Chinese official He Guoqiang, who heads the Communist Party's disciplinary inquiry into Bo, during which valuable infrastructure deals were signed. 

His father, Michel Devillers, told Britain’s Daily Telegraph that the arrest came as a surprise and that he would fly to Cambodia to enlist diplomatic help.

He believes that his son had had been led on by Gu.

“My opinion is that he was ensnared in a web of manipulation by this woman,” he told the paper.

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