BEIRUT: Lebanese prosecutors imposed a travel ban on fugitive former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn after he was questioned over an Interpol “red notice” issued by Japan seeking his arrest on financial misconduct charges.
The decision on Thursday prevents Ghosn from leaving Lebanon for an indefinite period and comes a day after the former auto tycoon held a two-hour press conference in Beirut in which he attacked the Japanese justice system, accusing it of violating his basic rights.
It was Ghosn’s first public appearance since his audacious escape from Japan on Dec. 29.
The former Nissan-Renault boss was awaiting trial in Tokyo on charges of financial misconduct when he slipped away from his home, took a bullet train to Osaka, and then flew by charter jet to Lebanon via Istanbul.
Ghosn said he had no trust that he would get a fair trial in Japan and denied the charges of financial misconduct.
Lebanese authorities also questioned Ghosn over a 2008 visit to Israel, deemed an enemy of the Lebanese state, for Renault.
The move follows a legal complaint filed against him by a group of Lebanese lawyers who accuse him of “normalization” with Israel.
Ghosn avoided journalists gathered in front of the Palace of Justice entrance, entering and leaving by alternate routes.
He was questioned by the Director of the Central Criminal Investigations Department, Brig. Gen. Maurice Abu Zaidan, under the supervision of the Public Prosecutor’s Office.
The Cassation Attorney General, Ghassan Aouidat, questioned Ghosn over the complaint lodged against him regarding his 2008 visit to Israel.
Lawyers Ali Abbas, Hassan Bazzi and Jad Tahmeh lodged the complaint with published photos and information detailing Ghosn’s meetings with Israeli officials.
Ghosn told the press conference on Wednesday that he would now focus on clearing his name.
He said that he visited Israel in his capacity as president of Renault with a French passport and had returned to Lebanon several times since that date “and nothing happened.”
“Who has an interest in opening this file now?” he asked.
Ghosn said that he is “proud to be Lebanese.”
“Lebanon is the only country that has stood with me in difficult times,” he added. “I do not consider myself a prisoner in Lebanon.”
Ghosn’s political influence was shown by the attendance at the press conference of Amal Haddad and Andrei Chediak, former presidents of the Bar Association affiliated with the Free Patriotic Movement.
Ghosn's wife Carole will also be questioned by Lebanese prosecutors when authorities receive an Interpol notice, Lebanon's caretaker justice minister Albert Serhan said in a statement on Friday.
"Carole will be subject to the same procedures that were followed for (Carlos) when the red notice was received from Interpol," the statement said.