Frenchman travels to China to assist in inquiry

Thu, Jul 19, 2012, 01:00

A FRENCH architect who was held in Cambodia because of his alleged links to China’s biggest political scandal in two decades has been flown to China, where he is expected to appear as a witness in the case.

Patrick Henri Devillers (52) was detained last month in Cambodia, where he had been living for several years. He was held at China’s request because of his suspected business links to Gu Kailai, the wife of deposed Chinese politician Bo Xilai. Mr Bo was stripped of his post as Communist Party secretary of Chongqing in southwest China in March in what looked like a political purge.

Cambodia’s information minister Khieu Kanharith said Mr Devillers had taken a flight from Cambodia to China late on Tuesday and he had left of his own free will.

“He voluntarily went as a witness,” he said, adding that China had given an assurance that Mr Devillers would only be required for up to 60 days.

The arrival of Mr Devillers has prompted speculation that a trial may be coming soon of Ms Gu, who has been named by Beijing as “strongly suspected” in the murder on November 15th of British businessman Neil Heywood.

Both Mr Heywood and Mr Devillers were known to be close to her, and they allegedly had an apartment together in the British town of Bournemouth in which they based business interests.

Mr Devillers has lived in Cambodia for at least five years and came into contact with Mr Bo while living in Dalian in the 1990s when Mr Bo, then mayor of the city, helped him chase an unpaid debt.

China has made no public comment about whether Mr Devillers himself faces any charges.

Mr Bo was formerly the rising star in the Communist Party firmament.

Mr Heywood was found dead in a hotel in Chongqing and police initially said he died from alcohol, but subsequently the official version says the Briton was poisoned.

Mr Bo and his wife have not been seen in public since then.