France opens probe over missing Interpol president

Meng Hongwei head of Interpol declared missing

INTERPOL President Meng Hongwei poses during a visit to the headquarters of International Police Organisation in Lyon, France, May 8, 2018.

The agency said it was concerned about the well-being of its president.

Mr Meng's wife says she hasn't heard from him since he left the French city of Lyon at the end of September.

China has not commented on Meng's whereabouts.

The French authorities have launched an investigation into the disappearance Meng.

Roderic Broadhurst, a professor of criminology at Australian National University, said Meng's disappearance would be "pretty disconcerting" for people in worldwide bodies that work with China, and could ultimately damage China's efforts to develop cooperative legal assistance measures with other countries.

Interpol's Secretary General on Saturday asked the Chinese authorities to clarify the status of the global police organization's President Meng Hongwei, who reportedly went missing while on a trip to China seven days ago.

"This is a matter for the relevant authorities in both France and China", the agency said in a statement.

"Yellow notices" are issued for missing persons.

Citing an anonymous source, the South China Morning Post said that authorities from the nation's disciplinary commission had snatched Meng upon arrival in Beijing. The prosecutor's office in Lyon has also opened an investigation.

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Who is Meng Hongwei?

Meng oversees the agency's executive committee, which sets overall strategy.

"Man Humvees, who also holds the position of Deputy Minister in the Ministry of public security of the PRC, was "detained for questioning by law enforcement authorities, "as soon as (his plane - ed.) landed in China", the message reads".

He has nearly 40 years' experience in criminal justice and policing.

After his election human rights groups expressed concern that the move could help China pursue political dissidents who have fled the country.

In the role Meng has been entrusted with a number of sensitive portfolios, including heading up the country's counter-terrorism division, which saw him in charge of the response to several major incidents in China's fractious western region of Xinjiang. Though, it has not been established yet if the Interpol chief was in China when he disappeared, a senior French law enforcement official confirmed that he was not in France. Since Xi Jinping came to power in 2012, well over a million party officials have been disciplined in some way.

"It is freakish", Broadhurst said on Saturday, adding that China was likely to "brush off" any political damage that it would cause to Beijing's involvement in global bodies. Family members of missing party officials rarely, if ever, reach out to foreign authorities, for fear their relatives will face ever greater punishment.

Grace Meng, the wife of missing Interpol President Meng Hongwei, who does not want her face shown, spoke in France on Sunday.

A number of well-known Chinese figures have gone missing for weeks or months in recent years.

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