An announcement from the premier Intermediate Court in the Chinese northeastern port city of Tianjin said Meng read a statement containing the confession at a hearing.
That move assures a conviction, although it isn’t immediately clear when a verdict and sentence would be handed down.
Admitting guilt and expressing regret can result in slightly lighter punishment, although China has been quick to hand out life sentences as it cracks down on corruption and political disloyalty under a campaign run directly by the president and head of the ruling Communist Party, Xi Jinping.
Elected president of the international police organization in 2016, Meng disappeared after traveling to China from his base in Lyon, France at the end of September. It later turned out the head the global police agency had been detained on charges of abuse of office and graft.
Interpol was not informed of Meng’s detention and was forced to ask China to account for Meng, just as his wife Grace was raising a storm over her husband’s whereabouts.
The Tianjin court said Meng had abused his positions, including as a vice minister of public security and maritime police chief, to curry favor for others in return for bribes.
The disgraced law man was shown on television wearing a plain brown windbreaker and flanked by two bailiffs, Meng appeared older and grayer than during his time as one of the nation’s top law enforcement officers.
He had already been fired from his positions and kicked out of the Communist Party.
Grace Meng talks to journalists in 2018 in Lyon, during a press conference in which she did not want her face to be shown.
Meng was appointed vice-minister of security in 2004 by Zhou Yongkang, China’s former security czar who was sentenced to life in prison in 2015 for bribery, abuse of power and leaking state secrets.
While serving at Interpol, Meng retained his title as a vice minister of public security.
There are suspicions that he had fallen out of political favor with president Xi, who has come down hard on corruption and perceived disloyalty in what observers say is calculated to strengthen party control while bringing down potential challengers to his authority.
Meng’s wife, Grace has remained in the French city of Lyon, the site of Interpol’s headquarters, since her husband Meng Hongwei disappeared, later revealed to have been arrested, while visiting China in September.
Grace Meng has accused Chinese authorities of creating a “fake case” against him for political reasons.
She told French media that she fears for her life and that of their twin sons, despite being under French police protection.
“I need the French government to protect me, to assist me, to help me and my children,” she said.
“I am afraid of being kidnapped.”
She has since applied for asylum.
Observers suspect Meng [left], had fallen out of political favor with president Xi Jinping, [right] who’s come down hard on corruption and perceived disloyalty
He was last heard from on September 25 as he left Lyon for China, when he sent his wife a social media message telling her to “wait for my call,” and then a knife emoji signifying danger.
Grace Meng later reported he was missing, and after several days without news Interpol said it had received a short message from Meng saying he was resigning.
She later revealed that two Chinese businessmen, one of whom she knew, had visited her at home in early October, before China revealed her husband had been arrested, and invited her to travel with them by private jet to the Czech Republic.
They were seeking advice on investment from Grace a trained economist, but she turned them down the request to travel: “That’s what I call a kidnap attempt,” she said, adding that this was when she asked for police protection.
She also said that in late October the Chinese consulate in Lyon said they had a letter for her from her husband, but insisted she show up in person to collect it.
She asked that they hand the letter over to French police, or that French police be allowed to go with her to the consulate. She did not receive a response.
In the interview to French media, Franceinfo and Liberation, given on January 10, she said that she had received no news of her husband or of her family back home, and that her Chinese phone and internet accounts had been blocked.
She had also received “strange phone calls”, she said, and was once followed into a hotel by a Chinese couple who attempted to gather information about her.
China’s public security bureau has linked Meng’s detention to a broader initiative to “completely remove the pernicious influence” of Zhou Yongkang.
Meng was replaced as Interpol chief by South Korea’s Kim Jong-yang.