Acting Lebanese minister says Beirut is unlikely to hand Ghosn over to Japan
BEIRUT – Lebanon is unlikely to hand over Carlos Ghosn to Japan after the former Nissan Motor Co. chairman jumped bail and fled Tokyo where he was facing trial for alleged financial misconduct, Lebanon’s acting justice minister said Friday.
“In the absence of any agreement with Japan in matters related to extradition, then the sovereign context that governs the situation is executed,” said Albert Serhan after Ghosn fled to Lebanon to escape what he claimed is a “rigged” Japanese justice system.
Serhan also said in a telephone interview that 65-year-old Ghosn has the “right to be tried” in Lebanon where he is a citizen if he is suspected of committing any criminal act under the country’s law.
According to local reports Thursday, Lebanese authorities will question Ghosn in the near future after the government received a red notice from Interpol, the international police organization, requesting that he be detained.
Serhan said: “The Japanese authorities can take part or contribute to or take notice of the judicial procedures.”
But questioning Ghosn and putting him on trial in Lebanon are seen as difficult, given that evidence is held by Japanese authorities and taking into account the two countries’ different legal systems and the complexities involved in translation.
Ghosn, the former chief of the Nissan-Renault auto alliance who holds Brazilian, French and Lebanese nationality, was released on bail in April on conditions that included a ban on foreign travel.
Ghosn arrived in Lebanon on Monday via Turkey after jumping bail in Japan. He apparently left from Kansai International Airport in Osaka on a private jet Sunday night.
Salim Jreissati, the Lebanese minister of state for presidential affairs, was quoted by the local newspaper An-Nahar as saying Ghosn, carrying a French passport, legally entered Lebanon.
However, Turkish prosecution authorities announced Friday they confirmed Ghosn entered and departed the country illegally via private aircraft with the help of people whom the authorities have detained.
The authorities said they have arrested four pilots of two jets that carried Ghosn and one executive of an operator of the jets. The other two who had been detained have been released, they said.
According to the Turkish state-owned Anadolu news agency, the executive was quoted as saying that an acquaintance in Lebanon threatened the executive’s family if the executive, who did not know Ghosn was aboard, did not cooperate.