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Interpol demands China ‘clarification’ on missing police chief

October 07, 2018

BEIJING: Interpol demanded an official "clarification" from China on the whereabouts of its missing police chief on Saturday, after reports said he was detained for questioning on arrival in his homeland.

Beijing has remained silent over the mysterious disappearance of Meng Hongwei, who was last seen leaving for China in late September from the Interpol headquarters in Lyon, southeast France, a source close to the enquiry told AFP.

His wife has since reported him missing.

"Interpol has requested through official law enforcement channels clarification from China’s authorities on the status of Interpol President Meng Hongwei," Jurgen Stock, the secretary-general of the international police body said in a statement.

"Interpol’s General Secretariat looks forward to an official response from China’s authorities to address concerns over the President’s well-being."

It is the latest high-profile disappearance in China, where a number of top government officials, billionaire business magnates and even an A-list celebrity have vanished for weeks or months at a time.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not respond to a request for comment from AFP.

But news of his absence was swiftly followed by speculation that the 64-year-old Meng -- who also serves as a vice-minister of China’s Ministry of Public Security -- had been swept up in Beijing’s secretive anti-corruption campaign.

Citing an anonymous source, the South China Morning Post said authorities from the country’s disciplinary commission had snatched Meng upon arrival in Beijing.

China’s recently established National Supervisory Commission holds sweeping powers to investigate the country’s public servants with few requirements for transparency.

While the law requires authorities to inform family members of a detention, it makes exceptions for cases involving national security, terrorism, or concerns over destruction of evidence or witness tampering.

People have been known to disappear into the commission’s custody for weeks or even months without a word. It is not clear why Meng -- the first Chinese president of Interpol -- would be under investigation.