Interpol, the international criminal police organisation, on Wednesday elected Kim Jong-yang of South Korea as its new president.
Interpol’s 194-member states, meeting in Dubai for their annual congress, elected Jong-yang to succeed China’s Meng Hongwei, who disappeared in September.
Hongwei, whose term was due to end in 2020, later resigned after Chinese authorities said he was being investigated for suspected bribery.
Jong-yang, who had been serving as acting president, was appointed for a two-year term while Nestor Roncaglia of Argentina was elected to a three-year term as vice-president for the Americas.
The body’s presidency is typically held for four years.
Jong-yang was chosen over his rival, Alexander Prokopchuk, a Russian interior ministry official and one of Interpol’s four vice-presidents.
Prokopchuk’s candidacy has raised concerns in Europe and the US, over fears that Moscow could abuse the role to target political opponents.
The US said on Tuesday that it supported Kim to lead the agency after a bipartisan group of US senators accused Russia of exploiting the global body to settle scores and harass dissidents.
In Europe, former Belgian prime minister and European parliament member, Guy Verhofstadt, wrote on Twitter: “Democratic and free countries may need to develop a parallel organisation” if Prokopchuk was elected.
“Russia has consistently misused Interpol to pursue its political opponents,” he added.