Sun, Oct 07, 2018 - Page 1 News List

China tight-lipped on disappearance of Interpol chief

AFP, BEIJING

Interpol president Meng Hongwei speaks in Bali, Indonesia, in an undated photograph.

Photo: EPA

China yesterday remained silent over the disappearance of the head of Interpol, deepening the mystery over the international police chief’s fate after reports said he was detained for questioning on arrival in his homeland.

Meng Hongwei (孟宏偉), 64, was last seen leaving for China late last month from Interpol headquarters in Lyon, France, a source close to the inquiry told reporters.

His wife has since reported him missing.

It is the latest high-profile disappearance in China, where a number of top government officials, billionaire business magnates and even celebrity Fan Bingbing (范冰冰) have vanished for weeks or months at a time.

Beijing has so far said nothing on Meng’s case.

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not respond to a request for comment from reporters.

News of his absence was swiftly followed by speculation that Meng — who is also Chinese deputy minister of public security — had been swept up in Beijing’s secretive anti-corruption campaign.

Citing an anonymous source, the South China Morning Post said that authorities from the nation’s disciplinary commission had snatched Meng upon arrival in Beijing.

China’s recently established National Supervisory Commission holds sweeping powers to investigate public servants, with few requirements for transparency.

While the law requires authorities to inform family members of a detention, it makes exceptions for cases involving national security, terrorism, or concerns over destruction of evidence or witness tampering.

People have been known to disappear into the commission’s custody for weeks or even months without a word.

Interpol yesterday said it asked Chinese authorities for information about Meng.

The agency said in a brief statement that “it looks forward to an official response from China’s authorities to address concerns over the president’s well-being.”

Interpol said it used law-enforcement channels to submit its request for information about Meng’s status.

It is not clear why Meng — the first Chinese president of Interpol — would be under investigation.

Chinese president Xi Jinping (習近平) has presided over an anti-graft drive since coming to power in 2012 that has punished more than 1 million officials.

Meng rose up the ranks of the nation’s domestic security apparatus when it was under the leadership of Zhou Yongkang (周永康), a rival to Xi and the highest-ranking official to be brought down on corruption charges.

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