- Title: Turkish court begins trial of suspects in Ghosn escape
- Date: 3rd July 2020
- Summary: ISTANBUL, TURKEY (FILE - JANUARY 3, 2020) (REUTERS) EXTERIORS OF CARGO DEPARTMENT OF ATATURK AIRPORT PLANES PARKED OUTSIDE HANGAR VARIOUS OF MEN BOARDING PLANE SIGN OF POLICE STATION WHERE DETAINED PILOTS AND OFFICIALS ARE BEING HELD DETAINED MAN BEING ESCORTED TO VAN OTHER SUSPECTS TAKEN TO VAN POLICEMEN GETTING INTO VAN
- Embargoed: 17th July 2020 09:34
- Keywords: Carlos Ghosn Nissan escape trial
- Location: ISTANBUL, TURKEY, BEIRUT, LEBANON
- City: ISTANBUL, TURKEY, BEIRUT, LEBANON
- Country: Turkey
- Topics: Crime/Law/Justice,Judicial Process/Court Cases/Court Decisions
- Reuters ID: LVA004CL99D8N
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: A Turkish court began hearing on Friday (July 3) the defence of seven people on trial over their alleged involvement in former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn's dramatic escape from Japan to Lebanon via Istanbul.
Once known as a titan of the global auto industry, Ghosn made a dramatic escape in late December from house arrest in Japan, where he was awaiting trial for the charges of underreporting his salary and using company funds for personal purposes. Ghosn, who denies the charges fled via Istanbul to Beirut, his childhood home.
An executive from Turkish private jet operator MNG Jet and four pilots were detained in early January soon after the escape and were charged with migrant smuggling, a sentence carrying a maximum sentence of eight years in jail.
They appeared in court in white protective overalls, masks and gloves as a measure against the coronavirus. Two flight attendants, charged with failing to report a crime - a charge carrying a sentence of up to one year - were also in court.
The first defendant, one of the pilots on the Osaka-Istanbul flight, denied the charge against him.
Prosecutors said MNG Jet operations manager Okan Kosemen knew before the Osaka flight that Ghosn would be on board and transferring to Beirut. Kosemen said he was told mid-flight from Osaka and cooperated under duress, according to the indictment.
The prosecution said Koseman used Whatsapp to communicate with pilots before, during and after the Osaka-Istanbul flight, using terms like 'luggage' and 'consignment' to refer to Ghosn.
Kosemen said in the indictment he was paid $175,000 for his involvement by a Lebanese broker named Nicholas Meszaros. Koseman said he heard "screams of joy" during the flight and Meszaros then told him as they communicated over Signal that Ghosn was onboard.
Ghosn's saga has shaken the global auto industry, at one point jeopardising the Renault-Nissan alliance which he masterminded, and has increased scrutiny of Japan's judicial system.
(Production: Huseyin Aldemir, Yesim Dikmen, Omer Berberoglu)
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