Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Frenchman in Bo Xilai case in "good shape" - embassy
BEIJING (Reuters) - A Frenchman at the heart of China's biggest political scandal in two decades has met French diplomats in Beijing and is "in good shape", a spokesman for the French embassy said on Tuesday.
Patrick Henri Devillers, 52, flew from Cambodia, where he had been living for several years, last week to China, where he is wanted as a witness in the case, the latest twist in a high-profile case already shrouded in mystery.
Devillers was detained last month in Cambodia at the behest of Beijing because of his suspected business links to the wife of deposed Chinese politician Bo Xilai, Cambodian authorities have said.
Cambodia said Devillers, an architect, had left of his own free will.
The embassy spokesman in Beijing, who declined to be named, told Reuters by telephone that Devillers had met two French diplomats on Saturday.
"He seems in good shape and had a good morale," he said. "So far as my colleagues could see, he seemed quite fine."
"We are in regular contact with him, and we are also in contact with the Chinese authorities on this subject, both in Beijing and in Paris," he said.
It is unclear why Devillers would voluntarily cooperate with China, a country run by a single political party with no independent judiciary.
The spokesman gave no details on what grounds Devillers is in China, whether he is being investigated for any alleged offence or his whereabouts. Asked whether Devillers had access to a lawyer, he said he could not comment.
Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, has been named by China as a suspect in the murder last November of British businessman Neil Heywood. Both Heywood and Devillers were known to be close to her.
"What we know is he said the following in Cambodia: that he would cooperate with the Chinese justice (system)," said the embassy spokesman in Beijing, adding that Devillers had told the French embassy in Phnom Penh that he "had an agreement with the Chinese" that he would collaborate with the Chinese judiciary.
China had promised Devillers would only be needed for up to 60 days before being allowed to return, according to Cambodia's information minister. Asked whether he could confirm this, the embassy spokesman in Beijing said he could not comment.
China has not said publicly whether Devillers is accused of any crime. Neither Bo nor his wife, Gu, has been seen in public since mid-March, when Bo was stripped of his post as Communist Party secretary of Chongqing in southwest China.
(Reporting by Sui-Lee Wee, Editing by Jonathan Thatcher)
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