Former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn arrives at the Japanese court. File photo
Interpol issued a wanted notice on Thursday for former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn, who jumped bail in Japan and fled to Lebanon rather than face trial on financial misconduct charges in a dramatic escape that has confounded and embarrassed authorities.
Lebanese Justice Minister Albert Serhan told The Associated Press in an interview that Lebanon "will carry out its duties,” suggesting for the first time that the automotive titan may be brought in for questioning. But he said Ghosn entered the country on a legal passport, and he appeared to cast doubt on the possibility Lebanon would hand Ghosn over to Japan.
The Interpol notice is the latest twist in Ghosn's daring escape, which spanned three continents and involved private planes, multiple passports and international intrigue. Turkey made several arrests Thursday as part of an investigation into how he passed through the country.
Ghosn's arrival in Lebanon jolted the nation, already in the midst of a crippling political impasse and its worst economic crisis in decades.
Lebanon must now decide how to deal with the Interpol-issued Red Notice, which is a non-binding request to law enforcement agencies worldwide that they locate and provisionally arrest a fugitive. A Red Notice is not an arrest warrant and does not require Lebanon to arrest Ghosn.
Shortly afterward, Ghosn issued a statement - his second this week - seeking to distance his Lebanese wife and family from any role in his escape.
"The allegations in the media that my wife Carole and other members of my family played a role in my departure from Japan are false and misleading. I alone organized my departure. My family played no role,” he said.
Ghosn, who is Lebanese and also holds French and Brazilian passports, was set to go on trial in Japan in April. He arrived in Lebanon on Monday via Turkey and hasn't been seen in public since. In a statement on Tuesday, he said he fled to avoid "political persecution” by a "rigged Japanese justice system.”
Justice Minister Masako Mori said on Sunday she has ordered an investigation after Ghosn issued a statement saying he was in Lebanon.
Ghosn fled to Lebanon this week before his trial in Japan on financial misconduct charges. Turkish media reports said he flew to Lebanon on a private jet via Istanbul.
Ghosn had been released on bail by a Tokyo court while awaiting trial but was not allowed to travel overseas. He disclosed his location in a statement through his representatives that did not describe how he left Japan, where he had been under surveillance.
Under Japanese law, suspects can be held for up to 20 days before being indicted or released, and are not allowed to have their lawyers present during questioning by prosecutors. Once charged, defendants are often refused bail by courts.
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