Saturday, January 23, 2021

Wife of former Interpol chief sues organisation for attempting to ‘gag’ her

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The wife of the disgraced Interpol chief detained in China for corruption has launched a lawsuit against the global policing body at the Permanent Court of Arbitration, two of her lawyers confirmed to the South China Morning Post.

The latest twist to the high-profile disappearance of China’s first president of Interpol, Meng Hongwei, follows his confession in a Chinese court to accepting more than US$2 million in bribes.

Grace Meng alleged that the global policing body had attempted to gag her, as she announced her legal action at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.

“[Interpol] failed to protect and assist my family and it is complicit in the internationally wrongful acts of its member country, China,” Meng claimed in the press release.

“Despite INTERPOL’s threat for speaking out, I am announcing … that I have launched legal proceedings against INTERPOL at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague,” she said.

She added that a tribunal would be set up to ascertain Interpol’s claims that Meng’s disappearance was “only a matter for the relevant authorities in France and China”, or whether the global institution “breached its obligations owed to my family”.

Rutsel Martha, a former general counsel at Interpol, as well as his colleague at Lindeborg Counsellors at Law, Stephen Bailey, confirmed to the Post they will be representing Grace Meng.

Her legal team also comprises two Parisian lawyers, Emmanuel Marsigny and Louis Guesdon, according to her press release.

Her husband last appeared in a trial at Tianjin No 1 Intermediate People’s Court on June 20, in which he admitted using various positions he held from 2005 to 2017 to help companies and people make illegal gains.

The court adjourned and said Meng would be sentenced at a later date.

The trial came eight months after the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the Communist Party’s anti-corruption watchdog, announced that Meng was under investigation.

France, where the Interpol is headquartered, has reportedly granted asylum to his wife.

In an emailed response to questions from the Post, Interpol described Meng’s claim that she was threatened as a “complete mischaracterisation”, adding that: “We have reminded the claimants and their representatives of their legal and professional obligations to respect the confidentiality of these proceedings.”

“These arbitration proceedings are confidential,” Interpol said. “We are therefore unable to address the specifics of the claim, except to say that we dispute the allegations as baseless.

“INTERPOL will not engage with any attempt by the claimants’ and their representatives to litigate this matter in the press, other than to note that claimants’ and their representatives apparently consider that their legal avenues of recourse are insufficient.”

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