Turkey sentences three to prison over Carlos Ghosn’s 2019 escape

A Turkish court convicted an official from a private airline and two pilots Wednesday for involvement in former Nissan Motor Co. chairman Carlos Ghosn’s dramatic escape out of Japan in 2019 and sentenced them each to four years and two months in prison.

The court in Istanbul acquitted two other pilots of the charge of “illegally smuggling a migrant.” Two flight attendants also were acquitted of failing to report a crime.


Ghosn, who was arrested in Tokyo on financial misconduct allegations in 2018, skipped bail while awaiting trial. He was flown from Osaka to Istanbul on a private plane and then transferred onto another plane to Beirut, where he arrived Dec. 30, 2019. He is believed to have hid inside a large box.

The convicted pilots, Noyan Pasin and Bahri Kutlu Somek, had maintained their innocence throughout the trial. They, the other two pilots and the flight attendants all denied involvement in plans to help Ghosn flee and insisted they did not know that he was aboard their flights.


The airline official, Okan Kosemen, claimed he was made aware that Ghosn was on the plane to Istanbul only after it landed. He admitted helping smuggle Ghosn onto the second, Lebanon-bound plane, but claimed he was threatened and feared for his family’s safety.


Turkish airline company MNG Jet has admitted that two of its planes were used illegally in Ghosn’s escape, flying him to Istanbul, and then to Beirut. The company said its employee falsified flight records so Ghosn’s name didn’t appear.

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Kosemen and the two pilots are expected to appeal their convictions.

Ghosn, who has French, Lebanese and Brazilian citizenship, led Japanese automaker Nissan for two decades. The 66-year-old is wanted on charges of breach of trust in misusing company assets for personal gain, and violating securities laws in not fully disclosing his compensation.

He has said he fled because he could not expect a fair trial in Japan. Lebanon has no extradition treaty with Japan.

In addition to his trial in Japan, the businessman faces legal challenges in France from his time at the helm of the Renault-Nissan alliance,, including allegations of tax evasion, money laundering, fraud and misuse of company assets
Pro-government forces in the Central African Republic (CAR) on Wednesday seized a stronghold of former president Francois Bozize, who was accused in December of plotting a coup, Prime Minister Firmin Ngrebada said.

“I hail the capture of the town of Bossangoa by our forces and allies today,” he said on Facebook, referring to a key pro-Bozize town 280 kilometres (175 miles) north of the capital Bangui.

“Allies” is a term used by CAR’s government for Russian paramilitaries and Rwandan troops who are supporting the beleaguered authorities against rebel groups.

“Never again will bandits disturb people in this part of the country,” Ngrebada vowed.

A senior government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said “fighting is still ongoing” but “resistance has been broken, the enemy is fleeing.”

In mid-December, six rebel groups united to launch an offensive against President Faustin Archange Touadera, just over a week before presidential and legislative elections.

The government said the rebels had acted in concert with Bozize, who seized power in 2003 and was ousted a decade later—an act that sparked a civil war along sectarian lines.

Russia and Rwanda flew in military personnel to shore up the CAR’s poorly- equipped armed forces, which are also backed by a 12,000 UN force, MINUSCA.

The rebels attacked a string of towns in January and twice came close to the capital, but the government and its allies went on the counter-offensive.

A string of towns—Boda, Boali, Bossembele, Bossemptele, Yaloke and Beloko—have been recaptured and on February 16, Bangui’s road lifeline to neighbouring Cameroon was reopened.

The following day, the government said it had “completely liberated” Bambari, CAR’s fifth biggest town, located in the centre of the country, and captured “numerous prisoners.”

Shadow of Bozize

Bozize fled abroad after being toppled in 2013.

He returned in late 2019, stoking fears that the troubled nation would be plunged once more into a full-fledged conflict as elections loomed on the horizon.

Violence remains endemic in a country where two-thirds of the territory is controlled by militia groups.

Touadera won re-election in the first round of the polls, according to official figures, but the turnout was just 35 percent as many voters were unable to cast their ballot.

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Bozize denies giving any support to the six rebel groups, who teamed up in December under the name of the Coalition of Patriots for Change, or CPC.

On January 4, the government launched an inquiry into him for “rebellion.”

Thousands of people have died in the CAR since 2013 and more than a quarter of the population of 4.9 million have fled their homes.

Of these, 675,000 are refugees in neighbouring countries.