Wednesday 22 January 2020

Carlos Ghosn set for first public appearance after escape from Japan

The former chairman of Nissan, is expected to speak to journalists in Beirut today.

Carlos Ghosn (Kyodo News via AP, File)
Carlos Ghosn (Kyodo News via AP, File)

By Zeina Karam, Associated Press

Carlos Ghosn, the former chairman of Nissan, is expected to speak to journalists in Beirut today, more than a week after his dramatic escape from Japan before his trial for alleged financial misconduct.

The highly anticipated news conference by Mr Ghosn will be the first public appearance since he smuggled himself from Tokyo to Beirut, landing in the Lebanese capital where he grew up and is regarded by many as a national hero.

Dozens of local and international journalists are expected to attend. Lebanese authorities have not made any comments about the news conference and it was not immediately clear whether they intend to summon him for questioning.

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Private security guards at the home of Carlos Ghosn in Beirut (Maya Alleruzzo/AP)

Mr Ghosn’s daring and improbable escape has perplexed and embarrassed Japanese authorities after he skipped bail and managed to flee the country despite supposedly rigorous surveillance.

Media reports have said that he left his residence alone, met two men at a Tokyo hotel, and then took a bullet train to Osaka before boarding a private jet hidden inside a case for musical equipment. He flew to Istanbul and was then transferred onto another plane bound for Beirut, where he arrived on December 30.

Lebanese authorities have said Mr Ghosn entered the country on a legal passport, casting doubt on the possibility they would hand him over to Japan. Lebanon last week received an Interpol-issued wanted notice – a non-binding request to law enforcement agencies worldwide that they locate and provisionally arrest a fugitive.

Lebanon and Japan do not have an extradition treaty, and the Interpol notice does not require Lebanon to arrest him.

Mr Ghosn, who is Lebanese and also holds French and Brazilian passports, was set to go on trial in Japan in April. In statements, he has said he fled to avoid “political persecution” by a “rigged Japanese justice system”. He also said that he alone organised his departure from Japan and that his wife, Carole, played no role.

On Tuesday, Tokyo prosecutors obtained an arrest warrant for Carole Ghosn on suspicion of perjury. That charge is not related to his escape. Lebanon’s justice minister said that Lebanon has not received any request related to that warrant.

Japanese justice officials acknowledge that it is unclear whether the Ghosns can be brought back to Japan to face charges.

Mr Ghosn’s former employer, Nissan Motor Corporation, said it was still pursuing legal action against him despite his escape, adding that Mr Ghosn engaged in serious misconduct while leading the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi alliance. He denies all the charges.

PA Media

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