Monday, January 30, 2023

Seven Turks face trial over escape of ex-Nissan boss Ghosn | Business and economic news

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Lawsuit trying to piece together details of how Ghosn fled Japan in December 2019 while on bail for financial misconduct.

An Istanbul court has resumed the trial of seven Turkish suspects accused of helping to smuggle former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn “in a major musical instrument case” from Japan to Lebanon.

Wednesday’s trial attempts to piece together details of how Ghosn, a Franco-Lebanese-Brazilian national, fled Japan in December 2019 while on bail for financial misconduct.

The 66-year-old was arrested in November 2018 and spent 130 days in prison before completing a daring act of escape that humiliated Japanese justice officials and raised questions about those involved.

The hearing concerns an employee of the private Turkish airline MNG Jet, Okan Kosemen, who allegedly used four pilots and two flight attendants to move Ghosn from Japan to Lebanon via Istanbul.

The pilots and the employee of MNG Jet are accused of “illegal migrant smuggling” and face up to eight years in prison. A hearing held in July freed them on bail but banned them from leaving Turkey.

Flight attendants are charged with failing to report a crime and face one-year sentences.

All seven deny the charges.

According to the indictment, the evacuation plan from Japan to Lebanon involved a stopover in Istanbul instead of a direct flight “so as not to arouse suspicion”.

Former US Special Forces member Michael Taylor and his son Peter are accused, along with Lebanese national George-Antoine Zayek, of recruiting MNG Jet and overseeing the covert operation.

The Taylors are currently fighting extradition from the United States to Japan and Zayek’s whereabouts are unclear.

Breathing holes

According to the indictment, the Taylors and Zayek put Ghosn “in a large musical instrument case” and then took him to security at the Japanese airport in Osaka.

They would have made “70 holes in the bottom of the case so that it breathes easily”.

According to the indictment, the plane landed at Istanbul’s former Atatürk Airport and parked near another plane bound for Beirut.

The MNG Jet Kosemen allegedly jumped off the Osaka plane and boarded the one bound for Beirut with Ghosn.

The indictment says Kosemen received several payments into his bank account in the months leading up to Ghosn’s leak. He is also accused of having received an unidentified amount after Ghosn arrived in Beirut.

Kosemen has denied being paid to help Ghosn escape, while pilots and flight attendants say they didn’t know he was on one of the plane’s flights.

Last year, MNG Jet deposit a complaint alleging that his aircraft was used illegally.


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