Former Interpol boss Meng pleads guilty to corruption

Agencies, BEIJING

Fri, Jun 21, 2019 - Page 5

Former Interpol president Meng Hongwei (孟宏偉) yesterday admitted his guilt during a court hearing in Tianjin after prosecutors accused him of taking 14.5 million yuan (US$2.11 million) in bribes, a remarkable fall from grace for the former Chinese vice minister of public security.

Interpol, the global police coordination agency based in France, said in October last year that Meng had resigned as its president, days after it was forced to ask China about Meng’s whereabouts after his wife reported him missing after traveling to China in September.

In March, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) said its investigation into Meng found he had spent “lavish” amounts of state funds, abused his power and refused to follow party decisions.

“Meng Hongwei made final remarks, and admitted guilt and expressed remorse to the court,” the CCP’s People’s Daily said of the hearing.

The paper added that his alleged crimes in various posts, including when he was deputy minister of public security and head of China’s maritime police, went back to 2005.

The Tianjin No. 1 Intermediate Court would announce its verdict at a later date, it said.

Photographs released by the court showed Meng sitting between two police officers in the courtroom, wearing a light brown jacket. His hair had greyed and he appeared gaunt compared with photos from 2017.

His wife, who has been granted asylum in France along with their two children, has said the charges against him are politically motivated.

As vice security minister, Meng oversaw a number of sensitive portfolios, including the nation’s counterterrorism division, and he was in charge of the response to violence in Xinjiang.

During Meng’s tenure, the public security bureau also arrested and interrogated a number of prominent dissidents, including Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波), who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize while imprisoned and died of liver cancer in 2017 while in custody.