June 19, 2012
LE FIGARO, LE MONDE, AFP (France)
After weeks of relative silence, the Bo Xilai affair that has shaken China's highest echelons of power has taken a new turn with the arrest of a French architect known to have close connections to the disgraced politician and his jailed wife.
A spokeswoman for the French Embassy in Phnom Penh confirmed Patrick Devillers was arrested on Tuesday, French daily Le Figaro reported. Agence-France Presse later reported that Cambodian police said the arrest was carried out with the cooperation of Chinese authorities, who are seeking Devillers' extradition.
Bo, the former leader of the southwestern Chinese region of Chongqing who'd appeared destined for a top position in the Communist party ranks, is being investigated for corruption allegations, while his wife, Gu Kailai, has been arrested for suspected involvement in last year's murder of British businessman Neil Heywood.
Press reports in China had delved into possible connections between Devillers, 52, and the business dealings of Heywood. In an extensive interview last month with Le Monde that took place in a hotel in Phnom Penh, Devillers denied any involvement with corruption or foul play, yet he spoke openly about his many interactions with Bo. The Frenchman worked in the department of architecture and urban affairs of Dalian, the city where Bo had became China's youngest big-city mayor. "In his eyes, I was a sort of artist," Devillers said of the rising politician.
Of the slain Heywood, Devillers said the two had been connected in the 1990s in large part because they were both married to Chinese women. "He had a grand nobility," he recalled, "in the best English tradition of honor."
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