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Interpol elects United Arab Emirates official as president

ISTANBUL – Interpol on Thursday elected a controversial official from the United Arab Emirates as the new president of the international law enforcement agency’s Annual General Assembly held in Istanbul.

Major General Ahmed Naser al-Raisi, inspector general of the Interior Ministry of the United Arab Emirates and member of Interpol’s executive committee, has been elected to a four-year term, the global police agency announced. . He has been accused by human rights groups of being involved in torture and arbitrary detention in the UAE.

Interpol said al-Raisi was elected after three rounds of voting and received 68.9% of the votes in the final round.

The global police agency quoted al-Raisi as saying: “It is an honor to be elected as the next president of Interpol.

“Interpol is an indispensable organization built on the strength of partnerships. It is the spirit of cooperation and solidarity in this mission that I will continue to foster as we work to create it. create a safer world for people and communities,” he said.

Voting to elect the president is being closely watched since China’s first president, Meng Hongwei, disappeared midway through his four-year term during a return trip to China in 2018. Then came the news. Allegedly he was detained, charged with bribery and other alleged crimes.

International law enforcement also said Valdecy Urquiza of Brazil was elected vice president of the Americas, while Garba Baba Umar of Nigeria was elected vice president of Africa.

Al-Raisi is accused of torture and has criminal charges filed against him in five countries, including in France, where Interpol is headquartered, and in Turkey, where elections are held.

His election drew angry reactions from two Britons who filed complaints.

Matthew Hedges, a British PhD student who was detained in the UAE for nearly seven months in 2018, said: “This is a sad day for international justice and global policy.

“I am truly apprehensive about what this means for people like me, who have been abused at the hands of the UAE and forced to make false confessions under torture,” he said in a statement. by email. Hedges said he was tortured and held in solitary confinement for months without seeing a lawyer.

Ali Issa Ahmad, a football fan who said he was tortured by UAE security services during the 2019 Asian Cup football tournament, said: “I will not stop fighting for justice because of torture and abuse. that I suffered under Al-Raisi’s watch. I hope that Interpol will not allow him to abuse any other person.”

Their attorney, Rodney Dixon, said his clients would “redouble their efforts to seek justice for their torture and pursue General al-Raisi in national courts wherever they may be.” when he comes in a new position.”

Hedges has been pardoned by UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, but Emirati officials insist Hedges is spying for Britain’s MI6 intelligence agency without presenting any credible evidence to prove it. justify their claims. Britain, its family and British diplomats have repeatedly denied the allegation.

Al-Raisi has run a deft campaign for the presidency, traveling the world to meet legislators and government officials, and boasts academic degrees from the UK and US and years of experience. experience in policing.

He said in a LinkedIn post that the UAE prioritizes “protecting human rights at home and abroad.”

In a opinion piece for the government-run newspaper in Abu Dhabi, al-Raisi said he wanted to “modernize and transform” Interpol, building on the UAE’s “role as a leader in the technology-based policy control and a bridge-builder in the international community.”

Al-Raisi replaced Kim Jong Yan from South Korea, the vice president was quickly elected as his replacement to serve the remainder of Meng’s term. Kim’s presidency is due to end in 2020, but his term was extended by a year after the coronavirus pandemic prompted Interpol to cancel its annual meeting last year.

Although Interpol’s secretary-general runs Interpol on a daily basis, the president still plays a role in overseeing the work of the police agency and guiding the agency’s overall direction. The Chairman runs Interpol’s general assemblies and Interpol Executive Committee meetings.

The post of general secretary is currently held by Juergen Stock of Germany.

About 470 police chiefs, ministers and other representatives from more than 160 countries attended the three-day meeting. Each participating country has one vote.

On Tuesday, delegates voted to recognize the Federation of Micronesia, bringing Interpol’s membership to 195.

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Suzan Fraser reports from Ankara.

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