The government had been torn between the demands of France and China when deciding the fate of detained Frenchman Patrick Devillers, an official said yesterday.
Khieu Sopheak, a spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, would not say whether Beijing had provided the government with evidence of Devillers’ alleged crimes yet, but said he was concerned about what to do with the 52-year-old.
“I hope these two countries, both friends of Cambodia, will understand our difficulty,” he told the Post. “If we send him to China, France will not be happy; and if we give him to France, it will disappoint China.”
Devillers, who was detained on June 13 at China’s request, has links to wanted Chinese politician Bo Xilai.
It is still not clear exactly why Devillers was detained, but the government has the right to hold him for 60 days without charge.
Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith last week alleged Patrick Devillers had held money for Gu Kailai, the wife of Bo Xilai.
China has named her as a suspect in the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood in November last year.
Both Heywood and Devillers were known to be close to her.
Devillers is alleged to have entered Bo’s inner circle while living in Dalian in the 1990s when Bo, who was mayor of the Chinese city, helped him to chase up an unpaid debt.
A spokeswoman for the French embassy in Phnom Penh said yesterday she had no information about the case.
To contact the reporter on this story: Cheang Sokha at firstname.lastname@example.org