French architect Patrick Devillers (L) stands in front of an immigration officer (R) at the Phnom Penh International Airport on July 17, 2012. Photograph: AFP Photo / General Commissariat of National Police
The French architect who was arrested and detained by Cambodian authorities at the behest of China last month has returned to Cambodia, authorities said yesterday.
French national Patrick Devillers, who left Cambodia voluntarily last month to co-operate in the murder investigation against the wife of disgraced politician Bo Xilai, had returned to Cambodia 10 days ago, National Police spokesman Lieutenant-General Kirt Chantharith said.
“He just went to China to give information to the Chinese government, and he has now come back to stay in Phnom Penh like normal,” Chantharith said. “He has a business here and never committed any wrongdoing, so he can live and work here normally; he has a wife and children here.”
According to Chantharith, Devillers returned to Cambodia on August 24 after voluntarily travelling to China to aid authorities in their investigation of Gu Kailai, who was given a suspended death sentence on August 20 after being convicted of murdering British businessman Neil Heywood.
Attempts to reach Devillers at his home in Phnom Penh were unsuccessful.
A security guard who worked nearby but did not wish to be named, confirmed that Devillers had been home, and had told the guard: “If someone comes here looking for me, tell them I am not here. I don’t want to meet with anyone.”
Devillers, who had multiple business ties to Gu, was arrested by Cambodian authorities on June 13 at China’s request shortly after Gu was implicated in Heywood’s death.
Although formal extradition papers never materialised, Devillers agreed to go to China more than a month ago, saying in an internet video message that it was “totally true” that he was leaving Cambodia of his own volition to co-operate with Chinese authorities.
A spokesman for the French embassy in Phnom Penh said he had been unaware of Devillers’ return.
To contact the reporter on this story: Cheang Sokha at firstname.lastname@example.org