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Now, a French twist to China's Bo Xilai controversy

world Updated: Jun 20, 2012 23:43 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

A French architect allegedly connected to the money, murder and intrigue of the Bo Xilai scandal has been picked up by the Cambodian police, widening the case involving the purged Communist leader and his wife who’s been arrested on murder suspicion.

Patrick Henri Devillers was arrested with the help of Chinese police two weeks ago, Cambodian police said, adding that they were considering sending him here.

“We are considering whether to send him to China or France. China has demanded he be sent to China because he committed offences there,” Phnom Penh Police Chief Touch Naruth told news agency AFP.

Reports quoted French embassy officials in Phnom Penh confirming the arrest, adding they were seeking clarifications.

Devillers, it was learnt, was close to Bo’s wife Gu Kailai – possibly even more than dead Briton Neil Heywood was; it is on the suspicion of murdering Heywood that Gu and a family help have been held. Heywood and Gu had allegedly fallen out after the former asked for more money as commission for transferring out money abroad.

Gu, it has apparently emerged, had business relationship with Devillers through the ‘90s. Reports said both listed the same address in the British resort town of Bournemouth in 2000; the same year as he left his Chinese wife in China to return to Europe. They divorced in 2003. The Frenchman also allegedly shared the same office address with Gu in Beijing.

The new development could further the ruffle the secret preparations for the once-a-decade leadership change in the Communist Party of China (CPC) coming up later this year.

The Party has been quietly busy in trying to minimise the damage triggered by the sacking of Bo as the popular mayor of the sprawling city of Chongqing. Periodic statements have been issued about how no individual is above the CPC or that corruption will not be tolerated.

Now, with the possible involvement of a second foreigner becoming evident – the first was murdered Briton Neil Heywood – in the murky trail of events, the Party’s embarrassment is likely to deepen.

The scandal has also embarrassingly exposed the unusual extent to which Bo’s family -- an elite Communist Party family where Bo's father was a revolutionary comrade of Mao Zedong and Gu's father a military hero - allowed foreigners to be involved in financial dealings.

According to agency reports, Devillers, in an interview to Le Monde newspaper in Cambodia, has denied any role in money laundering.