China

Meng Hongwei: China to prosecute former Interpol chief

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Media captionGrace Meng says "cruel" China is persecuting her husband

Meng Hongwei, the former Chinese head of Interpol, will be prosecuted in his home country for allegedly taking bribes, China's Communist Party says.

He has also been expelled from the party and stripped of all government positions, according to the party's watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI).

Mr Meng's disappearance in September prompted international concern.

He was reported missing by his wife during a trip back to China.

The 65-year-old, who had been living in France, resigned as Interpol president after being detained by the Chinese authorities.

In October, Chinese authorities said Mr Meng was being investigated over suspected bribe-taking.

What are the accusations?

Mr Meng is said to have abused his position for personal gain, misusing state funds to finance his family's "extravagant lifestyle" and disregarding Communist Party principles.

These charges amount to "serious violation of law and discipline", according to the CCDI, which said it had referred the case to state prosecutors.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Meng Hongwei was elected Interpol president in November 2016

"Meng Hongwei has no party principles..." the party watchdog said.

It added that his allegedly "illegal" income had been seized.

Mr Meng is the latest Communist Party official to fall foul of Chinese President Xi Jinping's anti-corruption crackdown.

Lu Wei, China's former head of internet censorship, was sentenced to 14 years in prison for bribery on Tuesday.

Analysts believe President Xi's hard-line stance on corruption suggests he is manoeuvring to crush threats to his leadership.

Mr Meng's wife Grace urged French President Emmanuel Macron to discuss her husband's detention during President Xi's visit to Paris this week.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Grace Meng does not reveal her face on camera

Last year, Mrs Meng told the BBC she was "not sure he's alive" after reporting him missing to French authorities.

She has demanded that her husband be allowed legal counsel in a written appeal to Mr Macron.

Mrs Meng, who has expressed fears for her life, is under protection in France, where she has applied for asylum.

Since Mr Meng's disappearance on 25 September, no details have emerged about his prison conditions.

Who is Meng?

He was elected Interpol president in November 2016, the first Chinese person to take up the post, and was scheduled to serve until 2020.

His job was largely ceremonial and did not require him to return to China often.

He was one of six vice-ministers in China's public security ministry and had 40 years of experience in China's criminal justice system, so he has much knowledge about senior Communist Party officials.

China has not presented any evidence to justify the allegation against Mr Meng.

In November Interpol elected South Korean Kim Jong-yang as its new president, rejecting a Russian candidate who had been tipped to succeed Mr Meng.

Interpol - the International Criminal Police Organisation - promotes co-operation and shares intelligence between police forces.

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