French architect in China scandal back in Cambodia

Gu Kailai and Patrick Henri Devillers

A French architect embroiled in the scandal surrounding the ousted Chinese Communist Party official Bo Xilai has left China and returned to his adopted homeland of Cambodia, according to French and Cambodian government officials.

Patrick Henri Devillers flew to China “voluntarily” in July, after more than a month in detention in Cambodia, to help with an investigation into the scandal surrounding Mr Bo and his wife, Gu Kailai, according to French and Cambodian officials. Chinese authorities haven’t commented on the matter; phone calls to the Chinese Foreign Ministry late Friday went unanswered.

Ms Gu was convicted on Aug. 20 of murdering a British businessman, Neil Heywood, who was one of a small group of foreigners, also including Mr Devillers, who got to know the Bo family in the northeastern city of Dalian while Mr Bo was mayor there in the 1990s.

Mr Devillers returned to the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh at the end of last week and is in contact with the French Embassy there, said French Foreign Affairs Ministry’s spokesman Vincent Floréani.

Khieu Sopheak, a spokesman for Cambodia’s Interior Ministry, said Mr Devillers arrived in Cambodia two weeks ago. “He is free in Cambodia,” Mr Khieu said. “He has his family and children and legal business in Cambodia.”

He said he had no information about how Mr. Devillers assisted Chinese authorities. Attempts to reach Mr Devillers for comment weren’t successful. He wasn’t at the home he lived in before his detention in Cambodia, and neighbors said they thought he had moved.

Diplomats and analysts say they are unsure what information Chinese authorities were seeking from Mr. Devillers, and why they needed him to come to China, since he didn’t appear as a witness at Ms. Gu’s trial and wasn’t mentioned during the proceedings.

Chinese authorities haven’t yet announced how they plan to deal with Mr Bo, who was dismissed from his party posts and placed under investigation for unspecified “serious disciplinary violations” in April. Mr Bo hasn’t commented publicly since then.

Ms Gu and Mr Devillers were both consulting partners for Horas Consultancy, a company that advised businesses investing in Dalian and elsewhere in China in the 1990s, according to that firm’s publicity material.

The Frenchman, who was married to a woman from Dalian for several years, also shared a residential address with Ms Gu in the southern British city of Bournemouth from 2000 to 2003, according to British public records.

Ms Gu, under the name Horus Kai, which she used in her foreign business dealings and on a book she wrote, and Mr Devillers are also both listed as directors of a company called Adad Ltd. that was set up in the town of Poole, near Bournemouth, in 2000 and dissolved in 2003, according to British public records.

Wall Street Journal
31 Aug 2012

Categories: Crime & Corruption

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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