American father and son get Japanese prison conditions to escape Ghosn

Tokyo — A court in Tokyo sentenced an American father and son to imprisonment for helping former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn escape to Lebanon while awaiting a trial in Japan.

Michael Taylor was sentenced to two years in prison on Monday, and his son Peter was sentenced to one year and eight months.

They were charged with helping a criminal in the escape of Ghosn, who was hiding in a large box that was privately jetted to Lebanon via Turkey in December 2019. Lebanon has not signed an extradition treaty with Japan.

In handing down the sentence, Judge Hideo Nirei said he had committed a serious violation of the law because Ghosn was unlikely to be tried.

“This case allowed Ghosn, a serious criminal defendant, to flee abroad,” he said.

The defense claimed that the two were only used by Ghosn, but he said he was clearly involved, regardless of who made the decision.

Ghosn was arrested in Japan in November 2018 for underreporting compensation and violating confidence in using Nissan’s money for personal gain. He said he was innocent and left because he couldn’t expect a fair trial in Japan.

The Taylors were arrested in Massachusetts in May 2020 and handed over to Japan in March. During their trial, they apologized to Ghosn for misunderstanding about Japan’s criminal justice system. Michael Taylor sobbed and said he was “broken.” A $ 1.3 million prosecutor said Ghosn had just paid them covered costs, denying them financially profitable.

However, judge Nirei said the court ruled that the motive was money. He said the Taylors could appeal within two weeks.

Both the father and son were quietly standing in front of the courtroom, surrounded by security guards in dark suits.

Taylors’ defense lawyer, Keiji Isaji, called for a speedy trial. Many Japanese trials last months, if not years.

The biggest punishment in Japan for helping criminals is three years in prison. The prosecutor demanded Michael Taylor be sentenced to 2 years and 10 months and his son to be sentenced to 2 years and 6 months.

Taylors’ defenses claimed a suspended sentence for the two men who had been detained in the United States for 10 months before delivery.

However, Mr Nirei said the time they held before and during the trial was not directly related and should be treated differently, not counting as time of service. “There is a limit to the amount we can consider,” he said.

In December 2019, Ghosn left his home in Tokyo and headed for Osaka by bullet train. According to the prosecution, he was hiding in a large box at the hotel, which was supposed to contain audio equipment, with air holes to allow him to breathe.

Another man, George Antoine Zayek, was accused of fleeing but was not arrested.

Separately, former Nissan executive Greg Kelly has been tried in Tokyo for tampering with Ghosn’s securities report. Kelly, who was arrested at the same time as Ghosn, also says he is innocent.

The verdict in Kelly’s trial, which began last September, is not expected until next year. Over 99 percent of Japanese criminal trials have been convicted. The accusations faced by Kelly after being convicted can be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison.

Yuri Kageyama

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