Cambodia to Decide on Extradition of Frenchman Sought By China

Posted June 21st, 2012 at 2:05 pm (UTC-5)
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Cambodian authorities say they will decide on whether to extradite a Frenchman linked to China's biggest political scandal.

Patrick Devillers was arrested on July 13 in the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh, on unspecified charges. He is said to have had close ties to disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai, who is being investigated for corruption, and his wife Gu Kailai, who has been arrested for the murder of a British businessman.

Devillers' connection to their crimes has not been explained.

Cambodian Interior Minister Sar Keng told VOA's Khmer Service that Cambodia has an extradition agreement with China, but any decision on where Devillers is sent will be made by Cambodia.

“I and the ministry of foreign affairs have already worked with the French embassy. Cambodia has an extradition agreement with China, which normally we have to respect it as we have already signed it. Therefore, once there is a request for an arrest we have to comply with it, but to where he would be extradited it rest solely on Cambodia's decision. But for now we have decided to keep him in Cambodia.”

The French embassy says it is closely monitoring the situation and has asked Cambodian authorities to clarify the reasons for his arrest.

Devillers, an architect, reportedly helped rebuild the northeastern Chinese city of Dalian while Bo was mayor. He reportedly set up a joint company with Bo's wife Gu Kailai in Britain and has been living in Cambodia for more than five years.

Forty-one-year-old British businessman Neil Heywood was found dead last year in a hotel room in the China's southwestern city of Chongqing.

Police have arrested Gu on suspicion of poisoning Heywood, but few details have emerged from the case.

Chinese state media have suggested that Heywood became too entwined in the Bo family's complex financial dealings.