China will prosecute former Interpol chief Meng Hongwei for improperly spending state funds, abusing his power, and failing to follow Communist Party direction.
The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said Mr Meng “wantonly and lavishly” spent state money, “refused to enact decisions of the party centre,” and abused his power for private gain. He was suspected of taking bribes, causing serious harm to the ruling Communist Party and overall state interests. The Commission said he should be dealt with severely.
Mr Meng has also been expelled from the Communist Party and handed over to legal authorities. He is almost certain to be found guilty at trial as courts are controlled by the Party. It is unclear if he has had access to a lawyer while in detention.
China’s anti-corruption watchdog issued its statement on Wednesday after Xi Jinping, the president, returned from a weeklong state visit that ended in France, where global police coordination agency Interpol is headquartered. Emmanuel Macron, the French president, raised the issue of human rights in China in meetings with Mr Xi.
Mr Meng’s mysterious disappearance made global headlines last autumn after his wife reported him missing to French police while on a trip to China, his home country. Before he vanished, he had sent a series of messages to his wife, asking her to wait for his call followed by a knife emoji, which she took as a warning sign.
That call never came. Shortly after, Chinese authorities said Mr Meng, 64, was under investigation for suspected violations of the law. He hasn’t been heard from since he vanished, in an unsettling case that raised concerns over how China operates on the global stage, and the dangers of falling out of favour with the ruling Communist Party.
Before his disappearance, signs had been building that Mr Meng might face a rocky road ahead. Last April, a few months before he disappeared, he was removed from the ministry’s powerful Communist Party committee.
Earlier he reportedly missed a series of high-level meetings, and stopped serving as director of the coast guard and deputy head of the state oceanic administration. It is unclear if he resigned from those posts or was fired.
As a former deputy minister of public security, Mr Meng also worked closely under Zhou Yongkang, a former ministry head, who was expelled from the Communist Party in 2014 and later convicted for corruption, bribery and leaking state secrets. He is currently serving a life sentence in prison and many of Mr Zhou’s former associates have also been investigated or prosecuted for corruption.
Several high-ranking Chinese officials, wealthy businessmen and even celebrities have disappeared without explanation since Mr Xi launched a sweeping anti-corruption campaign after coming to power in 2012. Critics have said it’s a way for him to clean house and wipe out opponents.
Appointed in 2016, Meng was the first Chinese president of Interpol, a development that human rights and legal advocates criticised at the time over concerns Beijing would use his authority to silence and pursue dissidents abroad.
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