Lebanese lawyers file charges against Carlos Ghosn for Israel visits

Under Lebanese law, citizens are not allowed to travel to Israel or have contact with Israelis

(FILES) In this file photo taken on January 21, 2008, Israeli President Shimon Peres (C) stands alongside President of French automaker Renault-Nissan, Carlos Ghosn (L) and Director General of "Better Place" Shai Agassi (R) during a joint press conference at the president's residence in Jerusalem. Lebanese lawyers filed a report on January 2, to the judiciary demanding fugitive auto tycoon Carlos Ghosn be prosecuted over a trip he made to Israel as Renault-Nissan chairman in 2008, after he jumped bail in Tokyo in mysterious circumstances and arrived in his native Lebanon early on December 30. / AFP / David FURST
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Three Lebanese lawyers have filed a request for charges against former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn for entering Israel in breach of domestic law.

Mr Ghosn, who holds Lebanese, French and Brazilian passports, arrived in Lebanon this week in mysterious circumstances after fleeing Japan, where he was expected to face trial on financial misconduct charges.

The lawyers accuse Mr Ghosn, 65, of signing contracts and attending several high-profile conferences in Israel, Lebanon's National News Agency reported.

Lebanese law bars its citizens from visiting Israel or communicating with Israelis.

The two countries have never signed a peace treaty nor established diplomatic relations after the Arab-Israeli war of 1948.

In 2008, Mr Ghosn, then head of French-Japanese car maker Renault Nissan, met president Shimon Peres and prime minister Ehud Olmert on a visit to Israel to sign a deal for mass-producing electric cars.

At the time, Hezbollah affiliated news website Al Ahed described the visit as "controversial".

The Iran-backed group, which wields considerable political power in Lebanon, fought a 34-day war against Israel in 2006.

That did not stop Mr Ghosn from enjoying popular support in Lebanon. In August 2017, he attended a ceremony in Beirut during which the national post office unveiled a stamp with his image.

One of the three lawyers, Hassan Bazzi, did not respond to a request for comment from The National asking why he waited 12 years to take legal action against Mr Ghosn.

His colleague, Jad Tohme, accused Lebanese politicians of remaining silent in the face of a clear “security breach”, NNA reported.

Lebanese authorities are usually swift to move against citizens suspected of breaking the law regarding Israel.

In 2017, French-Lebanese filmmaker Ziad Doueiry was briefly detained for shooting part of a 2013 movie in Israel.

Lebanese lawyer Ayman Raad, who is not involved in the case, told The National that the general prosecutor is not obliged to go ahead with an investigation.