Lebanese lawyers want ex-chief of Nissan prosecuted over 2008 Israel trip
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Lebanese lawyers want ex-chief of Nissan prosecuted over 2008 Israel trip

Legal report argues that after he escaped Japan, Carlos Ghosn should stand trial in Lebanon ‘for the crime of having entered an enemy country and violated the boycott law’

Carlos Ghosn (R) and then Israeli president Shimon Peres at a meeting at the President's Residence in Jerusalem, January 21, 2008. (Michal Fattal/Flash90)
Carlos Ghosn (R) and then Israeli president Shimon Peres at a meeting at the President's Residence in Jerusalem, January 21, 2008. (Michal Fattal/Flash90)

BEIRUT — Lebanese lawyers on Thursday filed a report to the judiciary demanding fugitive auto tycoon Carlos Ghosn be prosecuted over a trip he made to Israel as Renault-Nissan chairman in 2008.

Ghosn — who holds Lebanese, French and Brazilian citizenship — jumped bail in Tokyo in mysterious circumstances and arrived in his native Lebanon early on Monday.

The tycoon had traveled to Israel in 2008 to support a partnership with Shai Agassi, an Israeli entrepreneur who had launched an ill-fated electric vehicle venture called “Project Better Place.”

Three lawyers “submitted a report to the public prosecutor against businessman Carlos Ghosn for the crime of having entered an enemy country and violated the boycott law,” the state news agency reported.

They said several contracts had been signed during his January 2008 trip and added that Ghosn had taken part in several economic conferences.

“Doing business with Israel is not a matter of opinion — any normalization is forbidden by law,” Hassan Bazzi, one of the lawyers, told AFP.

Then prime minister Ehud Olmert, center, shakes hands with Israeli investor Shai Agassi, left, and Carlos Ghosn at the Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem, January 21, 2008. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

Lebanon is technically still at war with Israel, which occupied the south of the country until 2000, and forbids its citizens from traveling there.

Interpol, the international police cooperation body, has issued a “red notice” for Ghosn’s arrest in the wake of his fleeing Japan, but Lebanese judicial sources have said he cannot be extradited there.

Ghosn stands accused in Japan of deferring part of his salary until after his retirement and concealing this from shareholders, as well as siphoning off millions in Nissan cash for his own purposes.

Carlos Ghosn speaks during a press conference at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on January 21, 2008. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

He has denied all charges and has announced a press conference for next week.

Ghosn entered Lebanon on a private jet from Turkey using his French passport, according to airport documents seen by AFP.

“Where were the public prosecutor and general security when Ghosn visited Lebanon, after he traveled to occupied Palestine and was photographed there?” Bazzi asked.

General security is Lebanon’s main intelligence agency, which routinely investigates Lebanese citizens suspected of ties with Israel.

“Lebanon prosecutes poor people while those who have earned millions by investing with the enemy are treated as national heroes,” Bazzi said.

In 2017, French-Lebanese filmmaker Ziad Doueiri was arrested and briefly questioned for filming part of his film “The Attack” in Israel.

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