Japanese court sentences two Americans to prison

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A Tokyo court on Monday sentenced US Army 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 escape from Japan, where he had been jailed. allegations of financial misconduct.

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

Ghosn is still an escapee in his childhood home in Lebanon, which does not have an extradition agreement with Japan.

The verdict is the first handed down in Japan in the Nissan saga, which began with the former car magnet Ghosn’s shock arrest in Japan in 2018 due to allegations of financial misconduct.

The Taylors had been sentenced to up to three years in prison for the escape, which U.S. prosecutors described as “one of the most cheeky and well-orchestrated acts of escape in recent history.”

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

Their defense lawyers had argued that a conditional sentence was appropriate in view of their remorse.

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

At their first hearing, in June, prosecutors described the almost cinematic details of the operation – Ghosn was hidden in a large case with air holes drilled in it to glide past the security of an airport.

Ghosn recently told the BBC about the experience and described the half hour in the box waiting for the plane to take off as “probably the longest wait I have ever experienced in my life”.

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

According to the prosecutor, the Ghosn family paid Taylor more than $ 860,000 for preparation and logistics costs and $ 500,000 in cryptocurrency for legal fees.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS and AFP)

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