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Two Turkish Pilots Convicted of Helping Wanted Nissan Chairman Flee Japan in Daring Escape

Two Turkish Pilots Convicted of Helping Wanted Nissan Chairman Flee Japan in Daring Escape

a white airplane on a runway

Two pilots and an airline worker have been convicted of helping former Nissan chairman and wanted fugitive Carlos Ghosn flee Japan in a daring escape from law enforcement in December 2019. Ghosn, who is wanted on charges of false accounting and fraud, remains at large after escaping Japan while hidden in a box aboard a private jet.

The two pilots, as well as the airline worker who was accused of falsifying paperwork that aided Ghosn’s escape were each sentenced to four years and two months imprisonment by a Turkish court.

Two other pilots and two flight attendants were acquitted of charges that included illegally smuggling a migrant and for failing to report a crime. The convicted pilots and airline worker have maintained that they are innocent and are expected to appeal their sentences.

Ghosn was first arrested by Japenese investigators in 2018 and was initially held in custody before being granted bail on condition that he didn’t leave the country. Ghosn, who has Brazilian, French and Lebanese nationality, however, hired an extraction team to get him out of Japan claiming the criminal justice system was rigged and that basic human rights were ignored.

On December 29, 2019, Ghosn left his Tokyo apartment and travelled by Shinkansen bullet train to Osaka where he stopped off at a luxury hotel. He was placed in a large box and transported out of the hotel to a waiting private jet at Kansai airport. The box was never security screened because it was too large to fit through the x-ray machine.

The Turkish registered private jet flew direct to Istanbul and within an hour of being on the ground, Ghosn had been transferred onto another private jet to Lebanon.

The airline worker employed by Turkish private jet company MNG Jet told the court that he didn’t know Ghosn was on the flight from Japan but admitted to falsifying paperwork to help the wanted executive make his second flight to Beirut. The convicted airline worker said he only did so because he feared for his safety and that of his family.

Although both Lebanon and Japan are members of Interpol, the two countries don’t have an extradition treaty and Ghosn remains at large. An Interpol ‘Red Notice’ has been issued for Ghosn’s arrest. The disgraced businessman also faces allegations of fraud during his time at the helm of French car manufacturer Renault.

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