Thursday, 21 February, 2019


Interpol demands 'clarification' from China after its president disappears

The Prince of Wales shakes hands with Meng during his tour of Interpol as part of his visit to France in May GETTY The Prince of Wales shakes hands with Meng during his tour of Interpol as part of his visit to France in May
Bennie Garza | 07 October, 2018, 05:53

Meng Hongwei, the president of Interpol - the world's largest worldwide police organisation, which provides support to law enforcement agencies across 192 countries - has not been seen since last week.

Worldwide police agency Interpol has urged China to clarify the status of its president, Meng Hongwei, who has gone missing on a visit to the country.

Its statement said the agency "looks forward to an official response from China's authorities to address concerns over the president's well-being".

Beijing has remained silent over the mysterious disappearance of Meng Hongwei, who was last seen leaving for China in late September from the Interpol headquarters in Lyon, southeast France, a source close to the enquiry told AFP.

French authorities say he boarded a plane and arrived in China but his subsequent whereabouts are unknown.

So far, Chinese authorities have not made an official statement in this regard.

News of Meng's apparent disappearance comes after Chinese officials announced that Hollywood star Fan Bingbing, who also vanished without a trace several months ago, has been ordered to pay millions of dollars in alleged back taxes and penalties.

She was initially quoted by police sources as saying she had not heard from him since his departure on 29 September.

In the past, Beijing saw Mr Meng's election to Interpol as a chance to enlist more global help in tracing alleged economic criminals, including corrupt officials.

When Meng was named Interpol's president in November 2016, human rights groups expressed concern that Beijing might try to leverage his position to pursue dissidents overseas.

Beijing has so far said nothing on Meng's case.

It is not clear why Meng - the first Chinese president of Interpol - would be under investigation.

Hong Kong's South China Morning Post said the Interpol chief had been taken away for questioning by Chinese authorities as soon as he landed in the country.

The organisation went out of its way to say that its secretary general, not Meng, was responsible for the day-to-day running of Interpol.

The French are "obviously aware of the disappearance but know nothing more at this stage", said one diplomatic official, unauthorized to comment publicly on the matter and speaking only on condition of anonymity. Meng's term is due to run until 2020. He earlier served as the vice-minister of public security in China as well as the vice-chairman of the National Narcotics Control Commission and director of the National Counter-Terrorism Office for China, according to the Interpol website.

Kinzelbach also urged Interpol to issue a yellow notice - a global alert used to help locate missing persons - on Meng's behalf.

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