After several weeks of speculation over the whereabouts of Patrick Henri Devillers, an alleged middle-man in Gu Kailai’s business affairs and possible lead into the details surrounding the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood, The New York Times’ Keith Bradsher tracks down the French mystery man in Phnom Penh:
Mr. Devillers, 51, has graying hair and stands with slightly stooped shoulders. A pair of reading glasses hung from a black cord around his neck. He has an occasional wry smile, and a calm demeanor that may stem from his years of close study of Taoism, a mystical philosophy with deep roots in Chinese culture.
Mr. Devillers declined to speak on the record at his modest home, a sparsely decorated but attractive two-story French colonial building that survived the Khmer Rouge’s bloody rule of Cambodia from 1975 to 1979. After a subsequent exchange of e-mails, late Wednesday evening he allowed one comment to be attributed to him, a quote from the most famous Taoist text, the Dao De Jing, also known as the Tao Te Ching.
Mr. Devillers used the quote to summarize his contempt for the media interest in him, his denial that he has engaged in money laundering for anyone in China or been involved in any other wrongdoing, and his hope that the outside world will soon lose interest in him.
“Regarding our subject, I came on this quote from the Dao De Jing by Laozi which says: ‘Give evil nothing to oppose and it will disappear by itself,’ “ Mr. Devillers wrote. “I believe this teaching to be full of wisdom and hope facts will unfold the truth of it.”
Meanwhile, with Gu Kailai’s whereabouts still unknown as she faces murder charges in connection with Heywood’s death, The Los Angeles Times’ Barbara Demick reports that family members, activists and even former critics have all called for her to receive an open trial:
“The family is in a bad position. [The government] didn’t tell them where she is. They don’t know what will happen to her,” said the friend, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the subject. He said he saw Gu’s 90-year-old mother and a sister last week.
The friend said he was concerned that Gu, who is accused of poisoning Neil Heywood, doesn’t have a lawyer and may not be able to mount a defense. “I hope China will follow the law and let the world know what is happening with this case,” he said.
Chen Ziming, an activist during the 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations at Tiananmen Square and now a prominent intellectual in Beijing, says there is rare agreement across the political spectrum about how Gu should be handled.
“For once there is a common cause between the left and the pro-democracy camp, that this case should be dealt with in open court,” said Chen, who also wrote an editorial on the subject. “What Bo Xilai did … was a threat to the rule of law, but there is no reason his family should suffer retribution. To the contrary, her trial should serve as a model.”
The irony is that the people now expressing concern for Gu were vocal critics of the Maoist campaigns that her husband led in the city of Chongqing, where he was party secretary. Li Zhuang, a prominent Beijing lawyer who was persecuted by Bo after defending suspects in Chongqing, suggested last month that he would be willing to come to her defense.
“It would make people appreciate the role of lawyers in a modern and civilized world,” Li wrote on his microblog.