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Ex-Interpol chief pleads guilty to bribery charges

Beijing

20-June-2019

 Former Interpol President Meng Hongwei on Thursday pleaded guilty in a Chinese court to accepting bribes worth over 14 million yuan ($2 million), the state media reported.

In the first hearing of the trial in China's Tianjin city, Meng -- who had not appeared in public since September -- was accused of having "taken advantage of the convenience and power associated with his various posts" between 2015 and 2017 to help businesses and individuals secure illegal profits, state news agency Xinhua reported. 

During this period, Meng held the posts of the Vice Minister of Public Security and the head of China's Coast Guard, and according to the prosecutors, amassed an illegal wealth of 14.46 million yuan. 

According to Xinhua news agency, Meng "pleaded guilty and expressed remorse" in his final statement. 

The first hearing in the trial came more than a month after the Supreme People's Procuratorate accused Meng of accepting bribes after ending an investigation into the alleged acts of corruption carried out by the former head of Interpol. 

On April 24, the Procuratorate issued an official arrest warrant for Meng, who had been detained without formal charges in an unknown location by the Chinese authorities since September. 

On March 26, it was announced that Meng had been expelled from the Communist Party of China and stripped of all of his positions for allegedly committing serious violations of the party's law and discipline. 

The former Interpol chief mysteriously disappeared after boarding a plane heading to China on September 25, 2018. Meng's family lost track of him, and his wife Grace - who was recently granted asylum in France, where the Interpol headquarters are situated - reported him missing and called for help. 

After several days of silence and under pressure from the international community, which demanded explanations from China about Meng's whereabouts, the National Supervisory Commission -- a Chinese anti-corruption agency -- confirmed in early October that Meng was being detained. 

Shortly afterwards, Interpol announced the departure of its President with immediate effect, after Meng resigned from office in a letter. 

Chinese law stipulates that the police have the authority to hold suspects accused of national security offences or accused of terrorism or bribery without communication and in a secret location for up to six months, a regulation that, in many cases, applies to dissidents or activists. 

Since President Xi Jinping came into power in 2013, China has tried several senior officials for receiving bribes in its anti-corruption campaign. IANS