Cambodia arrests Frenchman linked to China’s Bo Xilai scandal

Patrick Devillers

A French architect with ties to disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai has been arrested in Cambodia, the French embassy said Tuesday, in a new twist to China’s biggest political scandal in decades. Cambodian police said the arrest of Patrick Devillers was carried out with the cooperation of Beijing, which is seeking his extradition.

“We’ve been informed by the Cambodian authorities of the arrest of our compatriot Mr. Devillers,” a French embassy spokeswoman told AFP.

Officials were seeking “clarification” about the reason for the arrest, she said.

Devillers is understood to have been a close business associate and friend of Bo and his wife Gu Kailai.

Bo, the former leader of the southwestern Chinese megacity of Chongqing, is being probed for corruption while Gu has been detained for suspected involvement in the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood last year.

Phnom Penh police chief Touch Naruth confirmed that a French national was arrested “about two weeks ago” but declined to give details, saying only the arrest was made “with the cooperation of China”.

“We are considering whether to send him to China or France. China has demanded he be sent to China because he committed offences there,” he told AFP.

Devillers’ connection to the Bo family drama remains unclear but in an interview with French daily Le Monde last month he denied allegations of any wrongdoing.

Devillers, 52, who is believed to have left China in 2005, also told the newspaper that his old acquaintance Heywood, who was found dead in a hotel room in Chongqing in November, was “a noble soul”.

According to the New York Times, Devillers was hired by Bo, mayor of the Chinese city of Dalian in the 1990s, to carry out architectural work.

And in 2000, Devillers and Gu set up an architectural firm together, the US daily reported in May, noting that the pair put down the same residential address in Bournemouth, southeast England, in their paperwork.

The scandal surrounding Bo and Gu, which first came to light in February and made worldwide headlines, has exposed deep divisions within the Communist Party ahead of a crucial, once-in-a-decade leadership transition, analysts say.

Bo was a member of the powerful Politburo and had been tipped for promotion to the nine-member Politburo Standing Committee, China’s most powerful political body, during the leadership transition.

But his hopes of winning a spot on the body were ended by his fall from grace, which began when his former right-hand man and police chief Wang Lijun fled to a nearby US consulate to seek asylum, after reportedly confronting Bo with information related to the murder of Heywood.

News of Devillers’ arrest comes just a week after He Guoqiang, a member of the Politburo Standing Committee, paid a visit to Phnom Penh during which multi-million dollar infrastructure deals were signed.

It is unclear whether there is any link between the “goodwill” visit and Devillers’ arrest. Phnom Penh is a close ally of China and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen regularly praises Bejiing‘s no-strings-attached aid.

China is Cambodia’s largest bilateral creditor and its biggest foreign investor, with hundreds of Chinese companies pumping billions of dollars into the impoverished country in recent years.

In 2009, Cambodia was widely criticised for deporting 20 Uighur asylum seekers to China, a move that was quickly followed by a 1.2-billion-dollar aid and loan package from Beijing. China rejected accusations of a link between the two.


Categories: Crime & Corruption

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5 replies

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  2. This case is getting more complicated. If Patrick Devillers hasn’t been in China since 2005, I wonder what his alleged part was in whatever was going on, and if France will get involved to keep him from being sent to China.

    My bet is that it has something to do with money.

    On a similar note, the US just caught two fugitives in the last week–one (Vincent Legend Walters) accused of killing a woman) had been on the run for more than twenty years and was working in Mexico and the other one (Jeffrey Reed Parish for sexually molesting a four year old) was in hiding for most of 18 years in Guatemala. Both of these men are being extradited to the United States where they will be tried in court and then probably spend the rest of their lives in prison.

    Then there is this, “The scandal surrounding Bo and Gu, which first came to light in February and made worldwide headlines, has exposed deep divisions within the Communist Party ahead of a crucial, once-in-a-decade leadership transition, analysts say.”

    Should we be surprised that there are “deep divisions within the Chinese Communist Party”? There always have been divisions. This is nothing new. The Maoist faction of the Party still believes that the Progressive faction is traitors to Mao’s legacy.

    There are two differences between China and the US—in America, the deep political divisions are between the Republican and Democratic Parties. Put them in one Party as China has and they would still be at each other’s throats. The other difference is that in America we have to put up with their arguments, lies, deceit, and misinformation on a daily basis until we are sick of it. However, in China, the Communist Party does all it can to hide all of the divisions so no one knows what is going on.

    In both cases, the people in China and America are all but powerless to stop the fighting/struggles between political parties and/or factions to see which one will rule next.

    What would happen in China if the Maoists came back into power? For example, the last time a Republican was President in the White House, the United States ended up with a war in Iraq based on lies that we had to go to war because of weapons of mass destruction that did not exist and evidence that these weapons did not exist were ignored/covered up.

    The war in Iraq lasted almost nine years and cost the United States taxpayers about $1 trillion US dollars.

    Total combatant deaths on both sides is estimated at more than 50,000 in addition to more than a 100,000 wounded and that does not count noncombatants with civilian deaths ranging from 103,000 to as much as almost 800,000 dead depending on who one believes.

    I suspect that if China’s Maoists came back into power the cost and loss of life might be much higher than America’s war in Iraq.



  1. June 19 2012 China Daily Mail Headlines « Craig Hill
  2. Cambodia says Frenchman linked to Bo Xilai scandal won’t be extradited to China « China Daily Mail
  3. Frenchman goes to China as Bo Xilai witness « China Daily Mail

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