France probes case of Interpol chief missing after China trip

The wife of Interpol head Meng Hongwei contacted police in Lyon after not hearing from her husband since he travelled to China on Sept 29, 2018.
The wife of Interpol head Meng Hongwei contacted police in Lyon after not hearing from her husband since he travelled to China on Sept 29, 2018.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

PARIS • French police have opened an investigation into the whereabouts of the president of international police cooperation agency Interpol, after his wife reported he had gone missing after travelling home to his native China last week.

The wife of Interpol head Meng Hongwei contacted police in Lyon, where the agency has its headquarters, after not hearing from her husband since he travelled to China on Sept 29, police sources said.

The investigation was first reported by French radio Europe 1. Interpol said the issue was a matter for the relevant authorities in France and China.

It added that the organisation's secretary-general, not Mr Meng, was responsible for the day-to-day running of Interpol.

The Hong-Kong based South China Morning Post newspaper reported that Mr Meng was under investigation in China. He was "taken away" for questioning by the authorities "as soon as he landed in China" last week, the paper said, quoting an unidentified source.

It was not known why Mr Meng, 64, was being investigated.

Before being elected head of Interpol in November 2016, Mr Meng was vice-minister of public security in China, which critics say gave him control over the secret police.

He is the first Chinese leader of Interpol.

The organisation's main function is to provide a mechanism for police forces in different countries to notify one another of wanted suspects. It does not have agents of its own with powers of arrest.

Beijing saw Mr Meng's election as a chance to enlist more international help in tracking down alleged economic criminals, including corrupt officials, targeted by President Xi Jinping's anti-graft campaign.

Mr Meng's term is scheduled to run until 2020.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 06, 2018, with the headline 'France probes case of Interpol chief missing after China trip'. Print Edition | Subscribe