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Former Interpol chief pleads guilty to bribery in China

Then-Interpol President Meng Hongwei at an International Cybersecurity Congress at Moscow's World Trade Centre on July 6, 2018. (Mikhail Metzel/TASS/Abaca Press/TNS)

Former Interpol chief, Meng Hongwei, has been charged with bribery, Chinese state media reported following his first public appearance at a court on Thursday since he vanished in September last year.

Meng, former vice minister of public security disappeared during a visit to China in September.

“Meng Hongwei, former vice minister of public security of China, pleaded guilty on Thursday to accepting 14.46 million yuan ($2.09 million) in bribes in an open trial in North China’s Tianjin,” a state media report said. The verdict will be announced at a later date.

Meng’s wife, who has been granted asylum in France, had earlier said that the charges against him were politically motivated.

“Meng, also the former head of China’s Coast Guard, was accused by prosecutors of taking advantage of the convenience, power, and status generated from his posts to seek benefits for others, illegally accepting money and gifts worth more than 14.46 million yuan from 2005 to 2017,” the People’s Daily, a mouthpiece of the Communist Party of China (CPC), reported.

Meng had been expelled from the CPC and dismissed from public office for “serious violations of Party discipline and laws”, China’s top anti-graft body, the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the National Supervisory Commission, announced in a statement on March 27.

“The investigation against Meng Hongwei’s taking and giving bribes and suspected violations of law is very timely, absolutely correct and rather wise,” China’s public security ministry had then said in a statement.

The strongly worded statement said the ministry will “unswervingly promote construction of party conduct, honest governance and fight corruption,” the statement signed by Zhao Kezhi, member of CPC’s elite Politburo standing committee and minister for public security said.

Meng was elected as president of Interpol, based in Lyon, France, in 2016, becoming the first Chinese official to take the post.

Before serving as Interpol president, Meng was a vice minister of public security and head of China Coast Guard.

The Chinese foreign ministry had slammed France for granting asylum to Meng’s wife, Grace Meng, in May. “There is no so-called political persecution,” Geng Shuang, foreign ministry spokesperson had said, reacting Paris’s decision to grant her asylum.

“If Meng Hongwei’s wife wanted to apply for political asylum in France, it would be an abuse of French legal procedures,” Geng had added.


© 2019 the Hindustan Times (New Delhi)

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