Interpol chief missing after China trip, French police launch investigation

Meng Hongwei president of Interpol

Meng Hongwei president of Interpol

Interpol President Meng Hongwei has been reported missing after leaving France for a trip to his native China, triggering a police investigation and search for the official, who hasn't been seen since September 29.

Meng Hongwei's wife claims she has not heard from her 64-year-old husband since he left Lyon, France, before a trip to his native China at the end of September.

French police said earlier they had launched a search for Meng after being contacted by his wife, news agencies reported.

When Meng was named Interpol's president in November 2016, human rights groups expressed concern that Beijing might try to leverage his position to pursue dissidents overseas.

French paper Le Monde reported on Friday that this is not the first time a high-ranking Chinese official or businessmen living overseas has disappeared.

A French official said Mr Meng did arrive in China.

Before taking over at Interpol, Meng Hongwei was deputy minister in charge of public security in China. "The people are arrested during a sojourn in China [.] and are then deprived of their liberty and interrogated for periods of times that can extend to months", Le Monde said.

Meng's term is scheduled to run until 2020. France, China and Interpol officials are yet to comment on the reports. In China, he holds the post of deputy minister of public security - now the highest point of a 45-year-long political career.

According to Interpol's website, in May he delivered a speech in Ireland in which he discussed the changing face of global crime and the need for Interpol to remain above political considerations.

While there are no public allegations against him, Meng, a member of the ruling Communist Party, likely worked closely with former security chief and Politburo Standing Committee member Zhou Yongkang, who is now serving a life sentence for corruption.

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