PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Cambodia said Friday it will not extradite a Frenchman it detained for possible involvement in a murder linked to one of China's biggest political scandals in years.
Cambodian authorities arrested French national Patrick Devillers on June 13 for possible links to the death in China last November of British businessman Neil Heywood.
Cambodian officials have said they detained Devillers at China's request but needed more evidence of wrongdoing to hand him over to another nation.
Speaking after returning from an overseas trip late Thursday night, Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said Cambodia would not extradite the Frenchman to China or France.
"The decision has been made. We have decided to keep him here," Namhong said.
Devillers is still being held by Cambodian police, however, and Namhong said authorities are continuing to investigate the case. Devillers has not officially been charged with any crime.
Cambodian Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong reiterated Namhong's comments on Friday, confirming there were no extradition plans. He said Cambodia had so far obtained no evidence of crimes committed by Devillers.
Heywood had close ties to Bo Xilai, a Chinese political high-flier who was ousted as Communist Party chief of the Chinese city of Chongqing. But Bo fell from power after his former police chief and longtime aide fled to a U.S. consulate and divulged suspicions that Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, was involved in Heywood's death.
Bo was subsequently removed as Chongqing party secretary in March and then suspended as a Politburo member amid speculation he tried to quash an investigation of his wife and a household employee over the Briton's death.
Though authorities in China initially said Heywood died from either excess drinking or a heart attack, they have since named Gu as a suspect. She faces criminal charges.
News reports have said that Devillers, an architect, was closely linked to Bo, Gu and Heywood, and had helped Bo rebuild the northeastern Chinese city of Dalian when Bo was the city's mayor in the 1990s.
China has considerable influence in Cambodia, having provided millions of dollars in aid over the past decade.