Turkey trial begins into Ghosn escape from Japan

Istanbul (AFP) –


The trial opened in Turkey on Friday of seven suspects over the audacious escape of former Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn from Japan to Lebanon via Istanbul in December, local media reported.

Ghosn, who faced multiple charges of financial misconduct that he denies, managed to slip out of Japan despite having handed over his three passports to his lawyers.

It is believed he transferred between private jets at an Istanbul airport after arriving from Japan before he flew to Lebanon where he has been since his escape.

The suspects were expected to give testimony during the hearing in Istanbul, the private DHA news agency reported.

The indictment said Ghosn was smuggled via a large "foam-coated" musical instrument case which had 70 holes for air, DHA reported.

According to the Turkish prosecutor, Michael Taylor, a former member of US special forces, and Lebanese national George-Antoine Zayek, recruited an employee of private Turkish airline company MNG Jet to ensure Ghosn was able to transit through Istanbul.

The airline employee, Okan Kosemen, and four pilots were charged with "illegally smuggling a migrant" and risk up to eight years in jail, according to the official Anadolu news agency.

They were arrested shortly after the case and remain in custody.

Two flight attendants are also accused of not reporting a crime and face a one-year jail sentence, Anadolu reported, They are free pending trial.

The pilots and flight attendants deny the accusations.

The indictment said the MNG employee received several payments into his bank account totalling over 250,000 euros in the months before Ghosn's flight.

MNG filed a complaint in January alleging its aircraft were used illegally, and said at the time that one employee apparently admitted to falsifying the flight manifest to keep Ghosn off the passenger list.

Ghosn, who led Nissan for nearly two decades before his arrest in 2018, was out on bail awaiting trial when he fled Japan.