An American father and son on Monday pleaded guilty in a Tokyo court to charges they illegally helped former Nissan Motor chairman Carlos Ghosn flee Japan hidden in a box and on a private jet.
Before appearing in the Tokyo District Court, Army Special Forces veteran Michael Taylor and his son Peter admitted to helping Mr Ghosn escape after they were asked to do so by Mr Ghosn's wife Carole, 54, Kyodo newswire reported, citing a person familiar with the matter.
Mr Taylor, 60, and his son Peter, 28, appeared in a Japanese court for the first time after the US extradited them in March. They are being held at the same jail in Tokyo where Mr Ghosn was detained and face up to three years in prison.
Mr Ghosn, who was arrested in November 2018, faces charges of financial impropriety by under-reporting his remuneration by more than 9 billion yen ($83 million) during his time as the chairman of Nissan and Mitsubishi. He has denied all charges, insisting he is the victim of a coup staged by Nissan executives.
The Taylors helped Mr Ghosn, 67, flee from his residence in Tokyo’s Minato Ward to a hotel in the capital and then to Osaka on December 29, 2019, before making their way to Kansai International Airport, according to the indictment.
They then hid Mr Ghosn in a box, passed through airport security and flew him aboard a private jet to Turkey despite knowing that the former auto titan was prohibited from travelling abroad based on his bail conditions, Kyodo reported.
The former Nissan chief executive, who holds French, Lebanese and Brazilian citizenship, then flew to Lebanon, which does not have an extradition treaty with Japan. Japanese officials have met with their Lebanese counterparts and have sought Mr Ghosn's detention through Interpol.
Lebanese authorities have refused to extradite him. Mr Ghosn, who led the Japanese car maker Nissan for two decades, has repeatedly said he would not be given a fair trial in Japan and has said he did not escape justice but "escaped injustice and political persecution" and described the Japanese judiciary process as a "hostage justice" system.
In February, a Turkish court sentenced an official from a private airline and two pilots to four years and two months in prison each for their involvement in Mr Ghosn’s escape.
Last month, French judges questioned the former Nissan boss in Beirut on charges of financial misconduct from his time in charge of the Renault-Nissan alliance, his lawyers said. They are looking into allegations of financial impropriety in France, including a party thrown at the Palace of Versailles, irregularities with a Renault-Nissan distributor in Oman and the activities of a Dutch subsidiary of the car firm.
Apart from taking interviews, Mr Ghosn, who is now in Beirut, has started a website, published a book and is working on a documentary.