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China says former Interpol president confesses to taking bribes

Meng Hongwei read a statement in court in which he expressed regret for his crimes.


Former Interpol president Meng Hongwei (AP)

Former Interpol president Meng Hongwei (AP)

Former Interpol president Meng Hongwei (AP)

A Chinese court said former Interpol president Meng Hongwei has confessed to accepting more than two million dollars (£1.6 million) in bribes.

The No 1 Intermediate Court in the north-eastern port city of Tianjin said Meng read a statement at a hearing on Thursday in which he expressed regret for his crimes.

That assures a conviction, although it is not yet clear when a verdict and sentence will be handed down.

Meng, who was elected president of the international police organisation in 2016, was taken into custody after travelling to China from France at the end of September.

Interpol was forced to ask China about Meng’s whereabouts.

The Tianjin court said Meng had abused his positions, including as a vice minister of public security and maritime police chief, to curry favour for others in return for bribes.

Admitting guilt and expressing regret can result in slightly lighter punishment, although China has been quick to hand out life sentences as it cracks down on corruption and political disloyalty under a campaign run directly by the president and head of the ruling Communist Party, Xi Jinping.

Shown on television, Meng appeared older and greyer than during his time as one of the nation’s top law enforcement officers.

He has already been sacked from his positions and kicked out of the Communist Party.

While serving at Interpol, Meng retained his title as a vice minister of public security.

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There are suspicions he had fallen out of political favour with Mr Xi, who has come down hard on corruption and perceived disloyalty in what observers say is a calculated move to strengthen party control while bringing down potential challengers to his authority.

Meng’s wife, Grace, has remained in France, where Meng was stationed for Lyon-based Interpol, and has accused Chinese authorities of creating a “fake case” against him for political reasons.

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