Japanese court sentences two Americans to prison for Ghosn . escape

A Tokyo court on Monday sentenced US Army Special Forces veteran Michael Taylor to two years in prison and his son to one year and eight months for helping former Nissan Motor Co Ltd chairman Carlos Ghosn to Japan. where he was charged with financial misconduct.

Michael Taylor and his son Peter pleaded guilty and apologized to court last month, saying they regretted their role in smuggling Ghosn out of Japan, hidden in a box aboard a private jet departing from Japan’s Kansai airport.

Ghosn remains a fugitive at his family home in Lebanon, which has no extradition treaty with Japan.

The verdict is the first to be handed down in Japan in the Nissan saga, which began with the 2018 shock arrest of former car magnate Ghosn in Japan on charges of financial misconduct.

The Taylors had received up to three years in prison for the breakout, which US prosecutors described as “one of the most brutal and well-orchestrated breakouts in recent history”.

Japanese prosecutors said earlier this month they had demanded a sentence of two years, ten months for Michael and two years and six months for Peter.

Their lawyers had argued that a suspended sentence was appropriate given their regrets.

They also argued that the couple’s ten-month detention in the United States before extradition should be taken into account in sentencing. The Taylors arrived in Tokyo in March after losing their fight against extradition.

At their first hearing, in June, prosecutors detailed the almost cinematic details of the operation — Ghosn was hidden in a large suitcase with air holes drilled to slip past security at an airport.

Ghosn recently told the BBC about the experience, describing the half-hour wait in the box for the plane to depart as “probably the longest wait I’ve ever experienced in my life”.

A third man, identified as George Antoine Zayek, is also accused of being involved in the escape, but remains at large.

According to the prosecution, the Ghosn family paid the Taylors more than $860,000 for preparation and logistics costs, and $500,000 in cryptocurrency for attorneys’ fees.

( Jowharwith REUTERS and AFP)

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