Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said yesterday that Cambodia is still awaiting evidence from China to support its request for the extradition of Patrick Henri Devillers.
However, Mr. Kanharith said he had been researching the alleged link between the French national and a political scandal in China, and believes Mr. Devillers is wanted in connection to his financial relationship with Gu Kailai, the wife of former Chinese Communist Party politician Bo Xilai.
“So far, there is no accusation against Devillers,” Mr. Kanharith said.
“In my own view, and I have searched [into the case], Patrick Devillers was in charge of looking after money for Bo Xilai’s wife,” he said.
Mr. Bo fell from the higher ranks of the Chinese Communist Party amid allegations that his wife, Ms. Gu, killed British businessman Neil Heywood in November.
Mr. Devillers has been in the custody of the Cambodian authorities since he was arrested two weeks ago at a restaurant in Phnom Penh at the behest of China. France has asked Cambodia to clarify why it arrested Mr. Devillers.
China has yet to send evidence to justify Mr. Devillers’ arrest, as requested by Cambodia, Mr. Kanharith said.
Mr. Kanharith repeated Cambodia’s pledge to keep Mr. Devillers in the country for the time being.
“We can not send him [to China] because he is French, and the Chinese court has not charged him,” he said.
“Now, we just ask him to stay in Cambodia,” he added.
Mr. Kanharith also raised the possibility that Chinese officials could question Mr. Devillers in Cambodia.
“I think China can send its judge to investigate, that might be possible,” he said.
Mr. Kanharith said that in order to extradite Mr. Devillers, China would have to file a request with Interpol.
“[The case] is hard because it involves four countries: first, the victim who is dead is a British national; Devillers is French; the requester is China; and the host [of the affair] is us,” Mr. Kanharith said.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong also said yesterday that there was no new information on the case. “The concerned authorities are investigating,” he said.
According to a report in Japanese newspaper The Asahi Shimbun last week, Ms. Gu had admitted to Chinese authorities that she killed Neil Heywood to prevent him from revealing a scheme in which he helped her move illicit money out of China.
Media reports since Ms. Gu was accused of the murder in April have outlined both a personal and financial link between Ms. Gu and Mr. Devillers.
They have been photographed together in Bournemouth, England, where their now dissolved company Adad Ltd. had its office.
A French business registration document for property-investment company GRIMA 7-05 lists Mr. Devillers as an associate of the firm. A Beijing address is given for Mr. Devillers, reportedly the same address as a law firm owned by Ms. Gu. The company had revenue of $18.8 million in the two years to September 2011, according to financial reports.
Mr. Devillers’ father, Michel, who is also the director of GRIMA 7-05, was quoted in media reports saying that he planned to come to Cambodia following his son’s arrest. But a woman who picked up the phone at GRIMA 7-05 in Rainans, France, yesterday said Michel Devillers was still in France.
(Additional reporting by Simon Marks and Simon Lewis)