Created: June 19, 2012 Last Updated: June 19, 2012
French architect Patrick Devillers, who had dealings with ousted Chinese communist official Bo Xilai and his wife, was arrested in Cambodia and could be extradited back to China.
Devillers was arrested by Cambodian authorities two weeks ago in cooperation with Chinese officials, the AFP news agency reported on Tuesday.
“We’ve been informed by the Cambodian authorities of the arrest of our compatriot Mr. Devillers,” a French embassy spokesperson told AFP.
In one of the biggest scandals to rock China’s political scene in years, Bo was removed from office as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader of Chongqing for “disciplinary violations” amid an investigation into whether his wife, Gu Kilai, poisoned and killed British businessman Neil Heywood last year.
Subseqently, Bo was removed from all of his Party posts, and he is being investigated for misuse of power, nepotism, and corruption during his tenure as mayor of Chongqing.
Devillers, like Heywood, is also said to have close business ties with Bo and his wife. Former clients of Devillers told the Le Monde newspaper last month that he was a business fixer, a money launderer, and even a lover to Gu—allegations that he denied at the time.
“We are considering whether to send him to China or France. China has demanded he be sent to China because he committed offenses there,” Phnom Penh police chief Touch Naruth told Le Monde.
The arrest comes several days after He Guoqiang visited Cambodia. Guoqiang is a Politburo member and the head of the CCP’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, which is likely investigating allegations against Bo, The New York Times reported.
Speaking with Le Monde last month, Devillers said Heywood—the murdered businessman who he had known for decades—“was a noble soul in the tradition of the English idea of honor.” He said he met Gu and Bo in the early 1990s while Bo was still mayor of the city of Dalian. Devillers was hired by Bo to do architectural work at the time.
After he divorced from his wife, Devillers moved to Cambodia in 2005, claiming that he did not become rich due to his close proximity to the Bo family. “I left China as I had arrived: with nothing,” he told Le Monde.
In 2000, Gu set up a British company that allowed European architects to work on construction projects in China—choosing Devillers as her business partner and using the same address in England, The New York Times reported. In 2006, Devillers and his father set up a Luxembourg real estate company to hold millions of dollars in assets, using the same address as Gu’s law firm in Beijing.
The ouster of Bo—who was seen as a rising star in the CCP and was formerly tipped for a top leadership post in the ruling Politburo Standing Committee—exposed deep divisions between factions in the Communist Party.
Later, reports surfaced that a stalwart ally to Bo, Political and Legislative Affairs Committee head and Politburo member Zhou Yongkang, was stripped of power in a move to purge members of the so-called “Bloody Hands” faction headed by former CCP leader Jiang Zemin.
Last week, Zhou was said to have handed over power as head of the Political and Legislative Affairs Committee in Beijing due to security reasons.
When Chongqing’s former top cop, Wang Lijun, fled for his life to the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu on Feb. 6, he set in motion a political storm that has not subsided. The battle behind the scenes turns on what stance officials take toward the persecution of Falun Gong. The faction with bloody hands—the officials former CCP head Jiang Zemin promoted in order to carry out the persecution—is seeking to avoid accountability for their crimes and to continue the campaign. Other officials are refusing any longer to participate in the persecution. Events present a clear choice to the officials and citizens of China, as well as people around the world: either support or oppose the persecution of Falun Gong. History will record the choice each person makes.
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