A Tokyo court on Monday began the trial of the two American nationals charged with helping ousted Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn flee Japan while on bail.
Michael Taylor, a 60-year-old former Green Beret, and his son Peter, 28, have already admitted to helping Ghosn, 67, flee Japan so the former auto tycoon could avoid trial, reports Xinhua news agency.
Sources close to the case said the pair were asked by Ghosn’s wife to smuggle the once-revered Nissan bigwig out of Japan while he was awaiting trial.
The two Americans are charged with providing Ghosn illegal passage to Lebanon, one of three countries he is a national of, by smuggling him out of his residence in Tokyo to Kansai International Airport via two hotels in late December 2019.
The father and son team, in full knowledge Ghosn was prohibited from leaving the country as part of his bail terms, hid Ghosn in a large box, which cleared Kansai airport security, and the illicit cargo was flown to Turkey on a private jet.
At the request of Japanese prosecutors, the Taylors were arrested in Massachusetts in 2020 by US authorities.
They had fought extradition to Japan in US courts but ultimately lost their battle when their appeal was rejected by the American Supreme Court this February.
Once extradited, they were arrested and charged in Japan in March.
Ghosn, who holds Brazilian, French and Lebanese nationalities, is accused of under-reporting his remuneration for years and for embezzling company funds.
He has denied all the charges, claiming company insiders conspired against him.
Japan has been trying to detain Ghosn with the help of Interpol.
Lebanon does not have an extradition treaty with Japan, meaning that Ghosn cannot be legally handed over without the government in Beirut first agreeing to it.