Bo accomplice Devillers back in China
Patrick Devillers, former friend and business associate of deposed Chinese politician Bo Xilai, left Cambodia aboard a plane for China of his own free will late last night, a government official said.
“He agreed to go by himself, because China wants him to be a witness in some issues occurring in China, and China has promised to hold him for 60 days, up to September 13-14, 2012,” said Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith. “He will be permitted to return if there are not any problems.”
Though he confirmed that Devillers was headed for China, Kanharith said that he didn’t know what would become of him once he arrived. He added that despite Devillers leaving of his own volition, the French embassy in Phnom Penh was not keen on the matter.
“The French embassy did not agree to send [him to China], because they said this case does not have any [formal extradition] request from China,” he said.
The French embassy declined to comment on Devillers’ case.
Under Cambodia’s extradition treaty with China, the arresting country — in this case, Cambodia — can detain a person at on behalf of the requesting country — in this case China —for up to 60 days while awaiting an official extradition request detailing the requesting country’s reasons for wanting the detainee.
Cambodian authorities took Devillers into custody on June 13 at China’s request.
According to sources close to the French architect, the arrest took place during what Devillers was told was a business meeting with Chinese-speaking Khmers at a riverside restaurant.
Devillers first became a person of interest in China when his close ties to Bo Xilai came under intense scrutiny following Bo’s fall from power in last March. Devillers also had a close relationship to Bo’s wife, Gu Kailai, a suspect in the killing of British businessman Neil Heywood.
Though the particulars of Devillers’ involvement in the case remain hazy, Kanharith speculated as to cause for his arrest last month, saying that “based on my own research, Patrick Devillers was … holding the money for the wife of Mr. Bo Xilai”.
Whatever the reason, said Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, Devillers is no longer Cambodia’s concern.
“We have already released him. He has freedom, and can go to any country he wants,” he said.
By Buth Reaksmey Kongkea and Meas Sokchea
The Phnom Penh Post
18 July 2012