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September 26, 2017

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Video shows Frenchman left 'freely' for China

PHNOM PENH -- Cambodian police have taken the unusual step of releasing a video interview with a French architect who left for China to assist a probe into a political scandal, saying it proved he did so freely.

Patrick Devillers, 52, is understood to have been a close business associate and friend of Bo Xilai and his wife Gu Kailai, key figures in China's biggest political scandal in decades, although his exact role is unclear.

He was arrested in Phnom Penh on June 13 at Beijing's request and boarded a flight to China late Tuesday after he was released by Cambodian authorities.

Cambodian officials and the French Foreign Ministry have stressed it was Devillers' own choice to help Beijing with its investigation. He has not been charged with any offence.

In an unusual video posting late Thursday by Cambodian police the Frenchman gives his first public comments since his arrest.

"Now I'm leaving for Shanghai, a stop before probably following on to Beijing ... to cooperate with the investigation into Gu Kailai," Devillers tells an unidentified interviewer.

"I reiterate that I'm leaving freely," he says, before going on to thank Cambodia's immigration police officers for their "care and friendship" during his detention.

Devillers is then filmed going through passport control at Phnom Penh airport's VIP area.

National police spokesman Kirt Chantharith said the video was released to prove that Devillers was not under pressure to leave the country.

Bo, the former leader of the southwestern Chinese megacity of Chongqing, is being probed for corruption, while Gu has been detained for suspected involvement in the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood last year.

Devillers is believed to have first crossed paths with Bo and Gu in the 1990s, when Bo hired him to do some architectural work in the Chinese city of Dalian.

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