ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — A court in Istanbul on Friday accepted an indictment against four pilots, an airline company official and two flight attendants accused of helping former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn escape from Japan to Lebanon via Turkey, and set a trial date for July 3.
Prosecutors are seeking up to eight years in prison each for the four pilots and the airline official, on charges of illegally smuggling a migrant, according to the indictment, cited by the state-run Anadolu Agency. The two flight attendants face a one-year prison term each if convicted of not reporting a crime.
Ghosn, who was arrested over financial misconduct allegations in Tokyo in 2018, skipped bail while awaiting trial in Japan late last year. He flew to Istanbul and was then transferred onto another plane bound for Beirut, where he arrived Dec. 30.
The Turkish airline company MNG Jet said in January that two of its planes were used illegally in Ghosn’s escape, first flying him from Osaka, Japan, to Istanbul, and then on to Beirut. The company said its employee had admitted to falsifying flight records so that Ghosn’s name did not appear on them.
The indictment states that Ghosn is believed to have been smuggled inside a “foam-covered music box” large enough to carry a person 1.70 meter- (5.58 feet-) tall, the private DHA news agency reported. It notes a 216,000 euro and 66,000 dollar increase in the airline official’s bank accounts between Oct. 16 and Dec. 26, 2019.
The four pilots and the two flight attendants have denied involvement in the plans to smuggle Ghosn. They also denied knowing that the former Nissan chief was aboard the flights, DHA reported.
The company employee and four pilots remain in custody while the flight attendants were released after questioning.