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Bo Xilai associate arrested in Phnom Penh

Bo Xilai associate arrested in Phnom Penh

120620_01

Bo Xilai leaves after the third plenary session of the National People's Congress's annual session at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 9, 2012. AFP Photo/Liu Jin

Cambodian authorities yesterday arrested French architect Patrick Devillers – friend and business associate of disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai – and may be moving to extradite him to China to face unspecified charges there, police said.

Phnom Penh Police Commissioner Touch Naroth confirmed the arrest to the Post, but declined to comment on the charges he faces, referring inquiries to the Department of Immigration, which led the operation.

“What I can say, is that this guy committed crimes in China, but for the details, please ask the immigration department,” Touch Naroth said.

Immigration and national police officials declined to comment.

Though it is still unknown what charges Devillers may face in China or on what grounds he would be extradited, it is known that he had close ties to Gu Kailai, wife of the former Chongqing party secretary.

Devillers met the couple in the early 1990s in the Chinese port city of Dalian, when Bo was the mayor there. His name was later linked with Gu’s in business ventures in Europe.

Bo’s rapid political ascendancy came to an abrupt end earlier this year, when he was suspended from the party and detained for allegedly spying on senior Chinese officials.

Gu was subsequently arrested in April for her suspected involvement in the murder of British businessman and family friend Neil Heywood.

Neither Bo nor his wife have been seen in public since he was stripped of his post in mid-March.

Devillers denied his involvement in any wrongdoing when he was tracked down in Phnom Penh, where he owns a home, by a New York Times reporter last month.

Laurence Bernardi, a spokeswoman for the French embassy in Phnom Penh, said the exact charges against Devillers remained unclear to them as well.

“We have been informed of the arrest of Patrick Devillers, and he has consular protection, as does any French citizen, and we have requested that Cambodian officials give us the motives for his arrest,” she said.

Although it was not immediately clear whether Devillers would be extradited to China, Cambodia has co-operated with China in past extraditions, notably the deportation of 20 Uighurs, members of a minority group in western China, who had sought asylum from the UN in Phnom Penh in 2009.

Chinese officials could not be reached for comment as of press time.

To contact the reporters on this story: Cheang Sokha at [email protected]
Stuart White at [email protected]

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