BEIJING: Former Interpol chief Meng Hongwei, who was detained on a visit to China in 2018, was sentenced to more than thirteen years in prison for bribery.
Meng is among a growing group of Communist Party cadres caught in President Xi Jinping’s anti-graft campaign. He disappeared during a visit to China from France and was later accused of accepting bribes and expelled from the Communist Party.
His wife was granted political asylum in France last year, after raising fears that she and her two children would be the targets of kidnapping attempts. He was sentenced to 13 years and six months in prison and fined two million yuan RMB ($290,000), said the Tianjin First Intermediate People’s Court.
Meng pleaded guilty to accepting $2.1 million in bribes at this trial last June, after the court said he used his status and positions to illegally acquire property and accumulate bribes.
The court statement said that some of the stolen money and goods could not be recovered. The court pictures showed a grim-faced Meng standing in front of a judge, flanked by two police officers.
Meng had truthfully confessed to all the criminal facts and would not appeal the decision, the court said. The country’s public security bureau has linked Meng’s case to a broader initiative to Zhou Yongkang, a former security czar who was sentenced to life in prison in 2015 for bribery, abuse of power and leaking state secrets.
Meng was appointed as vice security minister in 2004. He was entrusted with a number of sensitive portfolios, including the country’s counter-terrorism division, and was in charge of the response to violence in northwestern region of Xinjiang. In 2013, Meng was appointed director of China’s maritime police bureau which includes the country’s coast guard and maritime anti-smuggling authorities.
Meng was the first Chinese president at Interpol and was expected to serve a four-year term until 2020. When he vanished in September 2018, he sent his wife a message telling her to “wait for my call” followed by a knife emoji signifying danger.
A few weeks later, Interpol was informed that Meng had resigned. China later announcing he was being held on suspicion of taking bribes. He was replaced as president of Interpol by South Korea’s Kim Jong-yang.