Interpol Urges China To Clarify Status On Missing Police Chief

World       by Dawood Rehman | Published

World by Dawood Rehman | Published

Interpol has urged Chinese officials to release information on the whereabouts of Meng Hongwei, the president of the worldwide police agency who went missing after leaving France for China on September 29.

"He did not disappear in France", a source close to the inquiry told AFP.

South China Morning Post, a media house based in Hong Kong quoted a source saying that chief Meng was "taken away" for questioning by discipline authorities "as soon as he landed in China" last week.

It is not yet clear why Meng is being investigated or exactly where he is being held. China has made no official comment.

What is the French investigation looking at?

On Friday Mr Hongwei's wife reported him missing to French authorities.

Europe reported that he left the country on September 29.

But the French interior ministry later said the correct date was 25 September.

Interpol yesterday said it asked Chinese authorities for information about Meng.

Meng, 64, was elected to lead the organization in November 2016 for a four-year term. His wife has since reported him missing.

Meng Hongwei's disappearance seems to fit in with a now familiar pattern among China's senior Communist Party officials.

The official in question suddenly drops out of the public eye and an alarm is raised that the person is "missing", usually by members of the public, she said.

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

Chinese president Xi Jinping (習近平) has presided over an anti-graft drive since coming to power in 2012 that has punished more than 1 million officials.

Beijing has so far said nothing on Meng's case. She and her family have been placed under police protection following the "worrying disappearance", it said.

"It is freakish", Broadhurst said on Saturday, adding that China was likely to "brush off" any political damage that it would cause to Beijing's involvement in global bodies. But because Interpol's secretary-general is responsible for the day-to-day running of the police agency's operations, Meng's absence may have little operational effect.

Meng oversees the agency's executive committee, which sets overall strategy. His term in Lyon runs until 2020. He appears to have moved swiftly into the central government in Beijing, acting as an assistant to the public security minister - China's top cop - as well as head of the transportation department.

INTERPOL President Meng Hongwei poses during a visit to the headquarters of International Police Organisation in Lyon, France, May 8, 2018.

His appointment caused concern among academics and human rights advocates, who feared he would abuse Interpol's powers to forcibly repatriate Chinese dissidents and fugitives.

Interpol can issue a red notice - an worldwide alert - for a wanted person. Only at the behest of a country does the information go public via a "red notice", the closest thing to an worldwide arrest warrant.

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