China sentences former Interpol Chief to 13.5 years in prison

Former Interpol chief Meng Hongwei during his sentencing at the court. Image: Handout released by the Tianjin First Intermediate People’s Court

DHARAMSALA, 21 Jan: A court in southern China has sentenced former Interpol chief Meng Hongwei for thirteen and half years for allegedly for bribery and abuse of power.

Meng, who has previously served as China’s vice minister for public security was pronounced the 13 years and six months in prison and fined 2 million yuan RMB ($290,000), earlier today by the Tianjin First Intermediate People’s Court.

Meng, 64 disappeared while heading the global police coordination agency based in France during a trip to his home country of China in late 2018.

Days later it, was discovered that he has been detained in China for questioning as part of an investigation against him.

Though the Chinese court has charged him with pocketing more than 14.46 million yuan worth of assets in bribes and abused his former positions in the public security ministry and the coast guard between 2005 and 2017, the speculation continues that he had antagonized Chinese authorities in some way or other as he now joins the long list of purged Communist Party cadres under President Xi Jinping’s anti-graft campaign.

The former Chinese security Czar has reportedly accepted the court ruling. “He would not appeal against the judgment,” the court stated in its statement online.

Meng was appointed the head of Interpol, the leading international crime fighting and police cooperation organization in 2016 amidst criticism from rights groups as China has a longstanding practice of trying to use Interpol to arrest dissidents and refugees abroad.

Interpol is the world’s largest agency facilitating police cooperation, with 192 member countries. While it can issue international alerts for wanted persons, it does not have direct power to issue arrest warrants. He is due to serve until 2020.

Meanwhile, his wife, who reported his disappearance following the trip was granted political asylum in France last year over safety concerns for her and her two children.

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