China Sentences Former Interpol Chief to 13 Years for Accepting Bribes

January 21, 2020 Updated: January 21, 2020
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BEIJING—China has sentenced the former president of Interpol, Meng Hongwei, to 13 years and six months in prison for accepting more than $2 million in bribes.

Meng was elected president of the international police organization in 2016, but his four-year term was cut short when he vanished after traveling to China from France in late 2018.

Interpol wasn’t informed and was forced to make a formal request to China for information about Meng’s whereabouts, amid suspicion he had fallen out of political favor with Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

Punishment

A statement on Jan. 21 from the No. 1 Intermediary Court in the northern city of Tianjin said Meng accepted the verdict and wouldn’t appeal. In addition to his prison sentence, he was fined 2 million yuan ($290.000).

It said Meng, 66, admitted he abused his position to accept 14.4 million yuan ($2.1 million) in bribes while serving in various offices, including as a vice minister of public security and maritime police chief, often in exchange for favors and using his influence with other officials.

Meng has already been fired from his positions and expelled from the Communist Party. The relatively light sentence was likely a result of what the court called his cooperative attitude and willingness to admit to and show remorse for his crimes.

Meng’s wife, who remains in France with their two children, has accused Chinese authorities of lying and questioned whether her husband was still alive.

Grace Meng is now suing Interpol, accusing the organization of failing to protect him from arrest in China and failing to look after his family. Meng’s lawyers last year filed a legal complaint in the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands.

Party Factions

Meng became Interpol president in late 2016, as China widened its bid to secure leadership posts in international organizations.

His appointment prompted concern at the time from rights groups that China might try to leverage his position to pursue dissidents abroad, pointing to the lack of transparency in China’s legal systems.

While serving at Interpol, Meng retained his title as China’s vice minister of public security. It wasn’t clear when or how he had crossed Xi, who has leveraged a wide-ranging campaign against corruption at all levels to eliminate or intimidate political rivals.

As a long-serving vice minister of public security, Meng served for a time under Zhou Yongkang, the former security chief who was sentenced to life in prison, becoming the most powerful figure to fall in Xi’s anti-graft campaign.

Zhou and other senior figures prosecuted in Xi’s anti-corruption crackdown were mostly convicted of corruption but officials have since also said they were accused of “conspiring openly to usurp party leadership.”

Xi has ousted many powerful officials—most of them part of an enemy faction loyal to former leader Jiang Zemin.

The Epoch Times contributed to this report.