Arab coalition says Yemeni prisoner swap ‘positive’ step

Arab coalition says Yemeni prisoner swap ‘positive’ step
Spokesperson Col. Turki Al-Maliki said the Arab coalition’s top priority was to secure the prisoner release in Yemen. (File/Reuters)
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Updated 28 September 2020

Arab coalition says Yemeni prisoner swap ‘positive’ step

Arab coalition says Yemeni prisoner swap ‘positive’ step
  • Agreement includes release of 15 Saudi soldiers, 4 Sudanese nationals
  • Red Cross to supervise prisoner exchange process in Yemen

RIYADH: The Arab coalition fighting to restore the legitimate government in Yemen said on Sunday that it views a Yemeni prisoner swap as a “positive agreement.”
Yemen’s warring sides agreed earlier on Sunday to exchange 1,081 detainees and prisoners during the first stage of talks in Switzerland.
The Arab coalition said the prisoner exchange agreement was “purely humanitarian,” and in line with the Stockholm Agreement.
It has almost been two years since an agreement between the Yemeni government and the Iran-backed Houthi militia was signed in Sweden, with the aim of ending the brutal conflict that has led to the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
Spokesperson Col. Turki Al-Maliki said the Houthi militia will release 400 government prisoners while the Yemeni government will free 681 Houthi fighters, including on-the-ground deals for 20 prisoners.
Col. Al-Maliki said the coalition’s top priority is to recover the prisoners as soon as possible, adding that the agreement included the release of 15 Saudi soldiers and four Sudanese nationals.
He also said the Red Cross is expected to supervise the prisoner exchange process in Yemen.
Col. Al-Maliki called on the Houthi militia to not undermine the efforts of the UN special envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths, saying there was a real desire to implement all the points of the Stockholm Agreement.


Istanbul court resumes trial of Turks in Ghosn escape case

Istanbul court resumes trial of Turks in Ghosn escape case
Updated 20 January 2021

Istanbul court resumes trial of Turks in Ghosn escape case

Istanbul court resumes trial of Turks in Ghosn escape case
  • Trial is trying to piece together the details of how former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn fled Japan in December 2019

ISTANBUL: An Istanbul court on Wednesday resumed the trial of seven Turkish suspects accused of helping smuggle former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn “in a large musical instrument case” from Japan to Lebanon.
The trial is trying to piece together the details of how Ghosn — a French-Lebanese-Brazilian national who was a global business superstar when his career came crashing to an end — fled Japan in December 2019 while out on bail facing financial misconduct charges.
The 66-year-old fugitive was arrested in November 2018 and spent 130 days in prison before completing an audacious escape act that humiliated Japanese justice officials and raised questions about who was involved.
The hearing concerns an employee with Turkey’s MNG Jet private airline who allegedly used four pilots and two flight attendants to move Ghosn from Japan to Lebanon via Istanbul.
The pilots and the MNG Jet employee are accused of “illegally smuggling a migrant” and face up to eight years in jail. A hearing in July released them on bail but barred them from leaving Turkey.
The two flight attendants are accused of failing to report a crime and face one-year sentences.
All seven suspects deny the charges.
The indictment says the escape plan from Japan to Lebanon involved a stopover in Istanbul instead of a direct flight “so as not to arouse suspicions.”
Former US Green Beret member Michael Taylor and his son Peter are accused together with Lebanese national George-Antoine Zayek of recruiting MNG Jet and overseeing the secret operation.
The Taylors are currently fighting extradition from the United States to Japan and the whereabouts of Zayek are unclear.
The indictment says Taylor and Zayek put Ghosn “in a large musical instrument case” and then took him through security at Japan’s Osaka airport.
They allegedly opened “70 holes at the bottom of the case for him to breathe easily.”
The indictment says the plane landed at Istanbul’s old Ataturk airport and parked near another plane bound for Beirut.
MNG Jet employee Okan Kosemen then allegedly jumped off the Osaka plane and boarded the one destined for Beirut together with Ghosn.
The indictment says Kosemen received several payments into his bank account totalling 216,800 euros and 66,990 dollars in the months before Ghosn’s flight.
He is also accused of being paid an unidentified amount after Ghosn’s arrival in Beirut.
Kosemen has denied being paid to help Ghosn escape while the pilots and flight attendants say they were unaware he was on board any of the plane’s flights.
MNG filed a complaint last year alleging its aircraft was used illegally.
It added at the time that one its employees had admitted to falsifying the flight manifest to keep Ghosn off the passenger list.