Judges at the Bakırköy Courthouse in Istanbul Wednesday found an executive of Turkish cargo airline MNG and two pilots liable for migrant smuggling over their role in helping former Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. Chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn escape from Japan to Lebanon a year ago. They were sentenced to four years and two months in jail.
After being charged in January last year, the executive and four pilots were detained by Turkish authorities. Two flight attendants were charged with failure to report the crime. Among them, two pilots and a flight attendant were acquitted, and the case against the second flight attendant was dismissed. Noyan Pasin, one of the convicted pilots, asserted that the staff and officials in Japan as well as Turkey did not have any suspicions about the flight, and told reporters that they were convicted because they “weren’t suspicious.”
Ghosn was arrested in Japan in late 2018 and charged with under-reporting his salary and using company funds for personal purposes. He had been awaiting his trial under house arrest when he escaped to Beirut through Istanbul in December 2019. He maintains that the charges against him were fabricated to tarnish his reputation. He has also claimed that he was subjected to inhumane prison conditions in Japan, stating in a press conference, “I can tell you, it’s not very difficult to come to a conclusion you’re going to die in Japan or you have to get out.”
Erem Yucel, the lawyer for Pasin, said they would appeal the verdict. The convicted persons are not expected to serve time in prison since they had already been detained for several months.
Earlier this month, the US Supreme Court allowed the extradition of an American father and son who are accused of helping smuggle Ghosn out of Japan.
Japan has not yet requested the convicted persons’ extradition to face charges in its courts. Lebanon and Japan do not have an extradition treaty between them.