For­mer In­ter­pol chief un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion

Cyprus Today - - WORLD -

CHINA said on Mon­day it was in­ves­ti­gat­ing for­mer In­ter­pol chief Meng Hong­wei for bribery and other vi­o­la­tions, days af­ter French au­thor­i­ties said the Chi­nese of­fi­cial had been re­ported miss­ing by his wife af­ter trav­el­ling to his home coun­try.

Un­der Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping, China has been en­gaged in a sweep­ing crack­down on of­fi­cial cor­rup­tion. On Sun­day, In­ter­pol, the France-based global po­lice co­or­di­na­tion body, said that Mr Meng had re­signed as its pres­i­dent.

“The in­ves­ti­ga­tion against Meng Hong­wei tak­ing bribes and sus­pected vi­o­la­tions of law is very timely, ab­so­lutely cor­rect and rather wise,” China’s Min­istry of Pub­lic Se­cu­rity said in a state­ment on its web­site.

“The in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Meng Hong­wei fully shows there is no priv­i­lege and no ex­cep­tion in front of the law, and any­one who vi­o­lates the law must be se­verely pun­ished,” it added.

Of­fi­cials should never be al­lowed to “ne­go­ti­ate terms or hag­gle” over po­si­tions within the party, the min­istry said, re­fer­ring to China’s rul­ing Com­mu­nist Party.

French me­dia on Sun­day broad­cast video of Mr Meng’s wife Grace speak­ing to a small group of jour­nal­ists at a ho­tel in Lyon, her back to a TV cam­era in or­der to hide her ap­pear­ance and her voice trem­bling.

“This is a mat­ter for the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity. It con­cerns the peo­ple of my moth­er­land,” she said.

She showed jour­nal­ists a text mes­sage on her mo­bile phone with an im­age of a knife, sent by her hus­band as a way of show­ing her that he felt he was in dan­ger, French me­dia re­ported.

Mr Meng, 64, be­came pres­i­dent of the global po­lice co­op­er­a­tion agency in late 2016 amid a broader ef­fort by China to se­cure lead­er­ship posts in in­ter­na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tions. His ap­point­ment prompted con­cern at the time from rights groups that Bei­jing might try to lever­age his po­si­tion to pur­sue dis­si­dents abroad.

“Meng’s sud­den dis­ap­pear­ance has clearly un­der­mined China’s own ef­forts and has lent cre­dence to those who said pre­vi­ously that China was not ready to take on such im­por­tant in­ter­na­tional lead­er­ship roles,” said Paul Haenle, Di­rec­tor at the Carnegie–Ts­inghua Cen­tre in Bei­jing.

France’s In­te­rior Min­istry said last Fri­day that Mr Meng’s fam­ily had not heard from him since Septem­ber 25, and French au­thor­i­ties said his wife was un­der po­lice pro­tec­tion in Lyon, where In­ter­pol is head­quar­tered, af­ter re­ceiv­ing threats.

Pres­i­dents of In­ter­pol are sec­onded from their na­tional ad­min­is­tra­tions and re­main in their home post while rep­re­sent­ing the in­ter­na­tional polic­ing body.

A source at the agency de­clined to say whether it was usual for an In­ter­pol pres­i­dent to bring his fam­ily to France, or whether In­ter­pol pro­vided hous­ing for Mr Meng.

Mr Meng’s pre­de­ces­sor, French­woman Mireille Ballestrazzi, lived in Paris and trav­elled to Lyon for meet­ings when her pres­ence was re­quired.

China’s for­eign min­istry said on Mon­day that China would con­tinue to pro­vide sup­port for In­ter­pol’s work.

Meng Hong­wei

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