Former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn jumped bail, fled Japan ‘fearing for his life’ say sources

Former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn jumped bail, fled Japan ‘fearing for his life’ say sources
Ousted Nissan Motor Co boss, Carlos Ghosn claims he ‘feared for his life.’ (File/AFP)
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Updated 01 January 2020

Former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn jumped bail, fled Japan ‘fearing for his life’ say sources

Former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn jumped bail, fled Japan ‘fearing for his life’ say sources
  • Airport security say Ghosn arrived in Lebanon in a private plane
  • Family sources say he was depressed and wanted to return to normal life

DUBAI/BEIRUT/TOKYO: Ousted Nissan Motor Co boss, Carlos Ghosn, fled Japan because he “feared for his life and was depressed,” exclusive sources have told Arab News Japan.

Sources confirmed Ghosn was smuggled out of Japan on a non-commercial flight – probably a cargo plane to Lebanon via Turkey.

Japanese immigration officials also confirmed they had no official record of him leaving the country through any of Japan’s official exit points.

And Japanese government officials have said they intend to ask Lebanon to return Ghosn who continues to deny the allegations laid against him.

Ghosn arrived at Rafic Hariri Airport in Beirut, on a private plane, using his French passport and a Lebanese ID, which made him eligible for an immediate visa on arrival, contrary to earlier reports suggesting he used a fake passport.

His name was not flagged in the system as he is not on any Interpol list, and the Lebanese General Security only realized it was him after he had left the private terminal.

Close family members told Arab News Japan he was with them in Lebanon, claiming Ghosn “feared for his life.”

They said he was “depressed after this ordeal” and wanted to return to “normal life.”

They also denied he met with the president of Lebanon as was reported in some media and confirmed neither the Lebanese Foreign Ministry nor the Japanese Embassy in Lebanon were aware of his plan to leave Japan.

Earlier Tuesday Ghosn’s lawyers told reporters they were holding his three passports, adding that he could not have used any of them to escape Japan, adding that his client’s actions were “inexcusable.”

The lawyer’s comments came as Ghosn confirmed he had fled to Lebanon, saying he would not be “held hostage” by a “rigged” justice system.

Ghosn said in a statement on Monday that he had left Japan for Lebanon to escape “political persecution,” adding: “I am now in Lebanon.”

He said he “will no longer be held hostage by a rigged Japanese justice system where guilt is presumed, discrimination is rampant, and basic human rights are denied.”

The system is “in flagrant disregard of Japan’s legal obligations under international law and treaties it is bound to uphold,” according to the statement.

“I have not fled justice,” he continued. “I have escaped injustice and political persecution.”

“I can now finally communicate freely with the media and look forward to starting next week,” the statement added.

News about Ghosn, who faces house arrest in Japan amid ongoing legal action over alleged corruption during his tenure, broke on Monday at 11 pm [Beirut time]. 

An aide of Ghosn told Lebanese media that Ghosn was no longer under house arrest in Japan and has arrived in his native country. 

The overthrown boss of the Renault-Nissan had been awaiting trial in Japan in April amid house arrest following several months in detention.




The home of former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn in Beirut. (Leila Hattoum)

No official confirmation could be obtained from the Lebanese Internal Security Forces on Ghosn’s arrival at Beirut International Airport at midnight.

Requesting anonymity, an airport source told Arab News Japan that Ghosn arrived on a private jet that is believed to have flown in from Turkey. “He did arrive, but I cannot say when,” the source said without divulging further details. 

The Lebanese foreign ministry said it was not aware of the circumstances surrounding Ghosn's entry into the country. However, the General Security Directorate said the tycoon entered Lebanon legally and than no legal measures will be taken against him.

French junior economy minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher said on Tuesday she was “very surprised” by news that Carlos Ghosn had left Japan and flown to Lebanon, adding she had heard of it via the media.

Pannier-Runacher also told France Inter radio that, regarding Ghosn, no-one was above the law but Ghosn would be able to get French consular support as a French citizen.

Ghosn, once celebrated for his turnaround of the ailing car companies, has suffered one of the decade’s most dramatic corporate falls from grace. He was arrested in Japan in November 2018 under four charges of financial misconduct, which he denies.

After the news of his arrival in Beirut, social media users tweeted that Ghosn could be named a minister in the new cabinet that is currently being formed by Dr Hassan Diab following the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

Hariri resigned amid ongoing protests over political corruption and deteriorating economic situation. 


France says Turkey ‘deliberately’ snubbed EU Commission chief

France says Turkey ‘deliberately’ snubbed EU Commission chief
Updated 11 April 2021

France says Turkey ‘deliberately’ snubbed EU Commission chief

France says Turkey ‘deliberately’ snubbed EU Commission chief
  • Europe Minister Clement Beaune says Turkey set 'trap' for Ursula von der Leyen
  • Erdogan's snub dubbed 'sofagate' has sparked a diplomatic storm between Turkey and Europe

PARIS: France’s Europe Minister Clement Beaune said Sunday that Turkey had set a “trap” for European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen by forcing her to sit off to the side on a visit to Ankara, in a photo-op faux pas quickly dubbed ‘sofagate’.
The Turkish presidency’s failure to place a chair for von der Leyen alongside President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and EU Council chief Charles Michel was “an insult from Turkey,” Beaune said on RTL television.

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“Turkey behaved badly,” he added, calling it “a Turkish problem done deliberately toward us... we shouldn’t be stirring up guilt among Europeans.”
Von der Leyen’s being shunted aside prompted recriminations from European capitals to Turkey, but also within Brussels.
For its part, Ankara insists the incident was down to tangled wires between the Council and Commission, separate EU institutions.
Michel’s staff claimed they had no access to the meeting room before the Tuesday event, but also highlighted that the Council chief comes before the Commission president under strict international protocol.
“It was a kind of trap... between the one who laid it and the one who walked into it, I’d rather place the blame on the one who laid it,” France’s Beaune said.
Echoing Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, who called Erdogan a “dictator” in response to the sofa incident, Beaune charged that there was “a real problem with lack of respect for democracy and an autocratic drift in Turkey” that should prompt Europeans to be “very firm with the Turks.”
Nevertheless, “in future, it would be good if there was one single presidency of the European executive,” Beaune acknowledged.
“We need stronger European institutions.”


India bans exports of anti-viral drug Remdesivir as COVID-19 cases surge

India bans exports of anti-viral drug Remdesivir as COVID-19 cases surge
Updated 11 April 2021

India bans exports of anti-viral drug Remdesivir as COVID-19 cases surge

India bans exports of anti-viral drug Remdesivir as COVID-19 cases surge
  • Seven Indian companies have licensed the drug from Gilead Sciences
NEW DELHI: India said on Sunday it had banned the export of anti-viral drug Remdesivir and its active pharmaceutical ingredients after a record spike in COVID-19 cases sent demand surging.
“In light of the above, Government of India has prohibited the exports of Injection Remdesivir and Remdesivir Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) till the situation improves,” the health ministry said in a statement.
Seven Indian companies have licensed the drug from Gilead Sciences, with an installed capacity of about 3.9 million units per month.

Victim of London terror attack will return to rehabilitating prisoners

Victim of London terror attack will return to rehabilitating prisoners
Updated 11 April 2021

Victim of London terror attack will return to rehabilitating prisoners

Victim of London terror attack will return to rehabilitating prisoners
  • Stephanie Szczotko was stabbed by Usman Khan at a rehabilitation event for prisoners
  • ‘I’ve always enjoyed support work and helping people, so I want to carry on with that’

LONDON: A criminology graduate who was injured during the 2019 Fishmonger’s Hall attack in London has said she will return to rehabilitating prisoners.

Stephanie Szczotko, 26, was stabbed in the arm by Usman Khan during his murderous spree at a rehabilitation event for prisoners on license. 

Khan, 28, killed two of his victims — Jack Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23 — both of whom were workers from the Learning Together initiative, a rehabilitation scheme backed by Cambridge University.

The terrorist, who was shot dead on London Bridge by a firearm officer, was wearing a fake suicide vest.

Szczotko, from Bath in the west of England, visited prisons on behalf of the initiative during her criminology degree, and attended the Fishmonger’s Hall event as an alumni of the group.

She has remained an advocate of prisoner rehabilitation and restorative justice efforts, saying the attack “didn’t really change my opinion.”

She added that many of the ex-offenders at the event put themselves in harm’s way by challenging Khan as he started his rampage. 

“I’ve always enjoyed support work and helping people, so I want to carry on with that — maybe working with youth offenders,” Szczotko said.

The inquest into the deaths of Merritt and Jones starts on Monday. Witnesses will give evidence as the inquest seeks to establish what, if anything, the security services and the police knew ahead of the attack.


Official says Chinese vaccines’ effectiveness is low

Official says Chinese vaccines’ effectiveness is low
Updated 11 April 2021

Official says Chinese vaccines’ effectiveness is low

Official says Chinese vaccines’ effectiveness is low
  • Chinese vaccines “don’t have very high protection rates,” said the director of the China Centers for Disease Control

BEIJING: In a rare admission of the weakness of Chinese coronavirus vaccines, the country’s top disease control official says their effectiveness is low and the government is considering mixing them to give them a boost.
Chinese vaccines “don’t have very high protection rates,” said the director of the China Centers for Disease Control, Gao Fu, at a conference Saturday in the southwestern city of Chengdu.
Beijing has distributed hundreds of millions of doses in other countries while also trying to promote doubt about the effectiveness of Western vaccines.
“It’s now under formal consideration whether we should use different vaccines from different technical lines for the immunization process,” Gao said.
The effectiveness rate of a coronavirus vaccine from Sinovac, a Chinese developer, at preventing symptomatic infections has been found to be as low as 50.4% by researchers in Brazil. By comparison, the vaccine made by Pfizer has been found to be 97% effective.
Beijing has yet to approve any foreign vaccines for use in China, where the coronavirus emerged in late 2019.
Gao gave no details of possible changes in strategy but mentioned mRNA, a previously experimental technique used by Western vaccine developers while China’s drug makers used traditional technology.
“Everyone should consider the benefits mRNA vaccines can bring for humanity,” Gao said. “We must follow it carefully and not ignore it just because we already have several types of vaccines already.”
Gao previously raised questions about the safety of mRNA vaccines. He was quoted by the official Xinhua News Agency as saying in December he couldn’t rule out negative side effects because they were being used for the first time on healthy people.
Chinese state media and popular health and science blogs also have questioned the safety and effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine, which uses mRNA.
As of April 2, some 34 million people have received both of the two doses required by Chinese vaccines and about 65 million received one, according to Gao.
Experts say mixing vaccines, or sequential immunization, might boost effectiveness rates. Trials around the world are looking at mixing of vaccines or giving a booster shot after a longer time period. Researchers in Britain are studying a possible combination of Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines.


Philippines to ease some tough COVID-19 restrictions from Monday

Philippines to ease some tough COVID-19 restrictions from Monday
Updated 11 April 2021

Philippines to ease some tough COVID-19 restrictions from Monday

Philippines to ease some tough COVID-19 restrictions from Monday
  • Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna and Cavite will be placed under a less restrictive community quarantine status until April 30
  • The Philippines is battling one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in Asia

MANILA: Strict COVID-19 lockdowns in the Philippines capital and four adjacent provinces will be eased from April 12, a spokesman for President Rodrigo Duterte said on Sunday.
Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna and Cavite will be placed under a less restrictive community quarantine status until April 30, spokesman Harry Roque told a virtual briefing.
Roque gave the briefing from hospital where he is being treated for COVID-19. He gave no details on which restrictions will be eased but said details would be released on Monday.
The Philippines is battling one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in Asia, with hospitals in the capital overwhelmed amid record daily infections, while authorities face delays in delivery of COVID-19 vaccines.
On Sunday, the Department of Health recorded 11,681 new COVID-19 cases and 201 more deaths, bringing the country’s tallies to 864,868 confirmed infections and 14,945 fatalities.
New cases have surge in recent weeks, surpassing 15,000 on April 2, most of those in the congested capital.
Last week, Duterte canceled a weekly televised address and a meeting with his coronavirus task force as some of his staff and security detail were found to be COVID-19 positive.
Roque and Duterte’s defense minister, Delfin Lorenzana, also tested positive.
Roque said the government will work to increase the number of COVID-19 beds in health care facilities and free up more room in hospitals.
Under the current quarantine classification for Manila and surrounding areas, non-essential movement is banned, along with mass gatherings and dining in restaurants, with longer-than-usual curfews also in place since March 29.
The reimposition of strict lockdowns has raised concerns the economy will take longer to recover from last year’s worst slump on record.