Meng Hongwei, the former president of Interpol who was previously a senior Chinese police official, has been sentenced to 13 and a half years in prison by a Tianjin court for bribery. Meng was placed under investigation in October 2018 after he vanished into custody during a visit to China from his home in France the previous month, and pleaded guilty to bribery last June. Meng’s was one of a series of high-profile disappearances that have been cited as examples of Beijing’s increasingly uninhibited actions, and the former official is the latest sentenced in Xi Jinping’s ongoing anti-corruption campaign, a drive that critics have said is being used as a tool to fall Xi’s political rivals. The AFP reports:
Meng was sentenced to 13 years and six months in prison and fined 2m yuan RMB (£223,000), said the Tianjin first intermediate people’s court on Tuesday.
At his trial last June, he pleaded guilty to accepting $2.1m in bribes, after the court said he used his status and positions to “seek improper benefit”.
The court statement on Tuesday said Meng had “truthfully confessed to all the criminal facts” and would not appeal against the decision. [Source]
At The New York Times, Chris Buckley digests state media coverage of the Meng case and sentencing, and notes Meng’s wife’s rejection of the allegations against her husband and criticism of the anti-corruption campaign:
The judges took competing factors into consideration, according to the report. On the one hand, Mr. Meng had “truthfully confessed to all the facts of the crimes,” it said.
On the other, the report said, the Chinese authorities have been unable to recover all the money that they say Mr. Meng took in return for business opportunities, promotions and other favors.
Chinese news coverage of Mr. Meng’s trial last year showed him as a humbled figure, gray-haired and overshadowed by two hulking guards.
[…] Mr. Meng’s wife, Grace Meng, has rejected the allegations against her husband and, unusually for the spouse of a senior Chinese official, sought protection abroad. She has stayed in France since his detention.
[…] “I think the anticorruption campaign in China has already been damaged,” she told the British newspaper The Guardian. “It has become a way of attacking people who are your enemy.” [Source]
At The Financial Times, Christian Shepherd reports that both Meng’s 2018 disappearance and allegations from Grace Meng over Interpol’s treatment of Meng have sharpened concerns about Beijing’s global influence:
At the time of Meng’s disappearance Human Rights Watch said that the case “raised concerns at global institutions where high-level Chinese officials already have been installed in powerful positions” because “any government official is vulnerable” to a graft probe.
[… Grace Wang] has launched legal proceedings against the organisation at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, alleging that Interpol breached obligations to her family by failing to challenge Beijing, accusations that the organisation has said are “baseless”.
[…] Mr Xi’s war on graft has become increasingly international as it has progressed, with Beijing pressing countries to return fugitives who have fled China.
Most Western nations have resisted signing extradition agreements with China, citing concerns about the country’s opaque legal process and accusations of abuses of justice in its courts. [Source]