Former Interpol chief pleads guilty to bribery: Chinese state media

Former Interpol chief pleads guilty to bribery: Chinese state media

Former Interpol chief Meng Hongwei pleads guilty to bribery: Chinese state media
Former Interpol chief Meng Hongwei (center) during his trial at the court in Tianjin, northern China. (Photo: AFP/Tianjin No 1 Intermediate Court)

BEIJING: Former Interpol chief Meng Hongwei pleaded guilty Thursday (Jun 20) to accepting 14.5 million yuan (US$2.1 million) in bribes as he stood trial in China, state media said. 

The Tianjin No 1 Intermediate Court said Meng "showed repentance" during the hearing, which was the culmination of a dramatic case that shook the international police organisation and put a spotlight on China's judicial system.

The court will announce its verdict at a "select date or time", it said in a statement, without specifying further. 

Photos released by the Tianjin court showed Meng, who disappeared last year, sitting between two police officers in the courtroom, wearing a light brown jacket.

Interpol, the global police coordination agency based in France, last October said Meng had resigned as its president, days after his wife reported him missing after he travelled back to his home country of China.

In March, the ruling Communist Party said its investigation into Meng found he 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 official 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 coast guard, went back to 2005. Prosecutors said he accumulated bribes equivalent to about 14.5 million yuan.

It is not clear who Meng's lawyer is and it was not possible to reach him or a legal representative for comment. 

Meng is among a growing group of Communist Party cadres caught in President Xi Jinping's anti-graft campaign, which critics say has served as a way to remove the leader's political enemies.

More than one million officials have been punished so far during Xi's six-year tenure.

Meng's wife, who has been granted asylum in France, has said the charges against him are politically motivated. In French media interviews, she has said she fears for her life, and was afraid she and her children would be the targets of kidnapping attempts.

"POISONOUS INFLUENCE"

As vice security minister, Meng oversaw a number of sensitive portfolios, including the country's counter-terrorism division, and he was in charge of the response to violence in China's fractious northwestern region of Xinjiang.

During Meng's tenure, China's public security bureau also arrested and interrogated a number of prominent Chinese dissidents, including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, who was imprisoned and died of liver cancer while under police custody in 2017.

FILE PHOTO: Interpol President Meng Hongwei poses during a visit to the headquarters of Internation
Meng Hongwei poses during a visit to the headquarters of International Police Organisation in Lyon, France, May 8, 2018. Jeff Pachoud/Pool via Reuters/Files

At Interpol, Meng was expected to serve a four-year term until 2020. His election in 2016 had raised concerns among human rights groups which feared that Beijing would use the organisation to round up Chinese dissidents overseas.

But since his expulsion from the Communist Party, China's Public Security Ministry has sought to distance itself from Meng.

In March, the ministry said that Meng's "poisonous influence" had to be "thoroughly eliminated", and that it was investigating other party cadres involved in Meng's case.

Source: Agencies

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