Carlos Ghosn, fallen car mogul and fugitive of Japanese justice
PARIS: former car magnate Carlos Ghosn Japan's dazzling departure, where he faced trial on charges of financial misconduct, raises numerous questions about where his story goes next.
The French cartoonist Plantu, from the newspaper Le Monde, portrayed the 65-year-old Tuesday with a smile on his face, a party hat on his head and relaxing in a hammock.
The look of contempt contrasted with the dismay in Japan after his arrival in Beirut through Istanbul.
The exact circumstances of Ghosn's bold escape from Japan, where he was released on bail in April awaiting trial after 130 days in prison, are still unclear, although colorful rumors abound.
A claim in the Lebanese media is that the automotive magnate, who owns Lebanese, French and Brazilian nationalities, emerged from his residence in Tokyo in a case of musical instruments, a story that a source in his entourage denied.
A Lebanese presidential source said the former Nissan and Renault chief had landed in Turkey before an early flight to Lebanon. The trick left his Japanese lawyer Junichiro Hironaka stunned: Hironaka says that the magnate's three passports remain in Japan.
Lebanon's Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that Ghosn legally entered the country. The country's General Security apparatus said there are no measures that justify taking action against him or prosecuting him.
There is no extradition agreement between Lebanon and Japan, a source from the Lebanese justice ministry said.
Although that is the case, an expert in international relations said that the absence of an (extradition) convention does not in itself prevent extraditing an individual.
But certain states, including Lebanon, do not extradite their citizens, the expert added.
The former Lebanese justice minister, Ibrahim Najjar, said that if Interpol were involved in the case, Ghosn's name would be communicated to the border authorities of the member countries with a view to his arrest.
But Interpol cannot have him arrested by force or impose any decision on Lebanon.
The international relations expert said that a Lebanese court could judge Ghosn if he has committed a crime punishable by Lebanese law, but Lebanon cannot judge a person accused of tax fraud committed in a foreign country.
Arrested in Tokyo in November 2018, Ghosn, who insists he is fleeing from injustice and political persecution, faced a trial in April on four charges, including an insufficient salary, allegedly trying to make Nissan cover personal losses from currencies and using millions of Nissan funds were transferred to a dealership in Oman for their own use.
But his departure, which his defense lawyer described as inexcusable, has launched the process through the air.
The defense team has completely lost face, having previously promised that Ghosn would not leave the country, said former prosecutor Nobuo Gohara, a lawyer.
For prosecutors it is an extremely serious situation. Nissan must be afraid. And prosecutors too.
France also initiated legal action against Ghosn last April for alleged financial irregularities, but its escape should not have any consequences for our investigation, French prosecutor Catherine Denis said Tuesday.
Ghosn, now at his home in Beirut with his wife according to a family friend, promised to communicate freely with the media from next week and expressed his side of an episode that has divided the city where he grew up.
Lebanese writer and film director Lucien Bourjeily became ironic on Twitter, ironically observing that Ghosn has come for the comfort and 'efficiency' of a Lebanese judicial system that has never imprisoned a politician for corruption.
That, in a country where the population is currently in arms against a political class that they see as venal.