French police investigate Interpol chief, missing on home visit to China

by Garry Watts October 8, 2018, 1:20
French police investigate Interpol chief, missing on home visit to China

French police are investigating the disappearance of the president of Interpol during a trip to China, authorities said.

Reports quoted an unnamed French judicial official as saying that Meng arrived in China at the end of September but there had been no news of him since.

Interpol President Meng Hongwei poses during a visit to the headquarters of International Police Organisation in Lyon, France, May 8, 2018. He replaced French police officer Mireille Ballestrazzi and was due to serve till 2020.

While Meng is listed on the website of China's Ministry of Public Security as a Vice Minister, he lost his seat on its Communist Party Committee, its real decision-making body, in April, the Post said. According to the French newspaper, the global organization believes that Hongwei was detained by Chinese law enforcement officers for short time.

"Exchanges with Chinese authorities continue", the ministry said in a statement.

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The organization links up police officials from its 192 member states, who can use Interpol to disseminate their search for a fugitive, or a missing person. He likely dealt extensively with former security chief Zhou Yongkang, now serving a life sentence for corruption.

Meng's appointment as president in 2016 - amid Chinese leader Xi Jinping's sweeping anti-corruption drive - alarmed some human rights organizations, fearful it would embolden China to strike out at dissidents and refugees overseas.

Critics suggested that Meng's election gave Beijing a chance to enlist more global help in tracking down alleged economic criminals, including corrupt officials, targeted by President Xi Jinping's anti-graft campaign.

Billionaire Guo Guangchang, chairman of one of China's biggest private-sector conglomerates Fosun, also vanished from public view in 2015 in connection with an investigation by authorities, and then re-emerged.

Details about the case are still emerging; as for where Meng is believed to have gone missing, a source told Agence France-Presse, "He did not disappear in France".

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