Ex-President of Interpol Imprisoned for Bribery in China
22 Jan 2020

A former senior Chinese police official who also served as president of Interpol was sentenced on Tuesday to 13 and a half years in prison for bribery, in a case that his wife has denounced as stemming from a political vendetta.

When the official, Meng Hongwei, was elected president of Interpol, the French-based international body that provides global coordination in fighting crime, in 2016, the appointment raised fears among rights groups that China would use the connection to abuse the organization’s powers.

But two years later, Mr. Meng disappeared abruptly on a return visit to China, whose ruling Communist Party later disclosed that he was under investigation.

On Tuesday, a court in Tianjin, a port city in northern China, found that Mr. Meng had taken bribes worth more than $2 million from 2005 to 2017, when he was rising in China’s domestic security apparatus. The judgment, and the lengthy prison sentence, followed a one-day trial in June last year.

An online report about the sentencing from China’s main state broadcaster, CCTV, said, “Meng Hongwei told the courtroom that he accepted the court’s judgment and would not appeal.”

The judges took competing factors into consideration, according to the report. On the one hand, Mr. Meng had “truthfully confessed to all the facts of the crimes,” it said.

On the other, the report said, the Chinese authorities have been unable to recover all the money that they say Mr. Meng took in return for business opportunities, promotions and other favors.

Chinese news coverage of Mr. Meng’s trial last year showed him as a humbled figure, gray-haired and overshadowed by two hulking guards.

His imprisonment is likely to be promoted by China’s state media as proof that President Xi Jinping remains committed to his anticorruption campaign, which has seen a number of powerful figures jailed.

Mr. Meng’s wife, Grace Meng, has rejected the allegations against her husband and, unusually for the spouse of a senior Chinese official, sought protection abroad. She has stayed in France since his detention.

By Chris Buckley, The New York Times, 21 January 2020

Read more at The New York Times

Photo (cropped and edited): Web Summit [CC BY 2.0]

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