Three jailed for helping former Nissan CEO escape from Japan to Lebanon

ISTANBUL – A Turkish court convicted an executive of the Turkish aircraft company MNG and two pilots of migrant smuggling for their role in removing former Nissan Motor Co Ltd chairman Carlos Ghosn from Japan during his escape to Lebanon just over a year ago. anus.

The court sentenced them to four years and two months in prison, although their lawyer said they were not expected to serve time in prison because they had already been detained for several months.

Two other pilots and a flight attendant were acquitted, while charges against another flight attendant were dropped.

Carlos Ghosn, former CEO of Nissan and Renault, at a press conference in Jounieh, Lebanon, last September. Mohamed Azakir / Reuters file

Ghosn, once a leading figure in the global auto industry, was arrested in Japan in late 2018 and charged with failing to disclose his salary and using company funds for personal purposes, charges he denies.

The ousted chairman of the alliance of Renault, Nissan Motor Co and Mitsubishi Motors Corp had been awaiting trial under house arrest in Japan when he escaped in December 2019 via Istanbul to Beirut, his childhood home.

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Ghosn, who has French, Lebanese and Brazilian citizenship, remains at large and remains in Beirut, where he announced several months ago that he was launching a business university program. Lebanon does not have an extradition treaty with Japan.

An executive of the Turkish private jet operator MNG Jet and four pilots were detained by the Turkish authorities in early January 2020 and charged with migrant smuggling.

The lawyer for one of the convicted pilots, Erem Yucel, told reporters that they would appeal the verdict.

Convicted pilot Noyan Pasin said that staff and officials did not suspect that anything was wrong with the flight, neither in Japan nor Turkey, so it was wrong to point out the pilots.

“We were expected to be suspicious and we were convicted because we were not suspicious,” he told reporters.

The defendants were released in July, when the first hearing was held, and are not expected to return to jail due to the time they served. Japan is not known to have requested his extradition to face charges there.

Ghosn’s saga has rocked the global auto industry, at a time jeopardizing the Renault-Nissan alliance that he himself planned, and increased scrutiny of Japan’s judicial system.

Renault and Nissan have struggled to regain profitability after their tenure, during which both automakers say Ghosn focused too much on expanding sales and market share.

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