The BBC says a general from the United Arab Emirates who has been accused of complicity in torture has been elected as president of Interpol.

Ahmed Nasser al-Raisi, inspector general of the UAE's interior ministry, will serve a four-year term in the part-time and unpaid role.

Human rights groups had reportedly lobbied against his candidacy, accusing him of failing to investigate credible complaints of torture against UAE security forces.

General Raisi rejects the allegations.

The UAE's foreign ministry said he "strongly believes that the abuse or mistreatment by police is abhorrent and intolerable".

General Raisi was elected Interpol's president after three rounds of voting by member states at the agency's general assembly in Istanbul, Turkey.

His duties will include chairing meetings of the executive committee, which supervises the work of Secretary General Jürgen Stock. Mr. Stock is a full-time official who oversees the day-to-day running of Interpol.

General Raisi reportedly tweeted that it was an "honor" to be elected president and promised to "build a more transparent, diverse, and decisive organization that works to ensure safety for all".

In a separate statement, he declared that the UAE was "one of the world's safest places" and that the Gulf Arab state continued to be the "most important force for positive change in the world's most difficult region," according to the BBC.

But the campaign group Human Rights Watch's Gulf researcher, Hiba Zayadin, called it "a sad day for human rights and the rule of law worldwide."  She said the general was "a representative of arguably the most authoritarian government in the Gulf, one that equates peaceful dissent with terrorism".

The election was also condemned by the British academic Matthew Hedges, who has issued a claim for damages at the High Court in London that accuses General Raisi and three other senior UAE officials of being involved in the false imprisonment and torture he allegedly suffered in the UAE in 2018.