BEIRUT — Lebanon may lift a travel ban on ousted Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn if files pertaining to his case do not arrive from Japan within 40 days, caretaker justice minister Albert Serhan said in a statement on Friday.
Ghosn fled Japan to Lebanon, his childhood home, last month as he awaited trial on charges of under-reporting earnings, breach of trust and misappropriation of company funds, all of which he denies.
His dramatic escape has raised tensions between Japan and Lebanon, where Ghosn slammed the Japanese justice system at a two-hour news conference on Wednesday, prompting Japan's Justice Minister to launch a rare and forceful public response.
Lebanon has no extradition agreement with Japan.
Serhan said in the statement that he had met with the Japanese ambassador to Lebanon and reaffirmed the importance of the relationship between the two countries.
He also said that Ghosn's wife Carole will also be questioned by Lebanese prosecutors when authorities receive an Interpol notice for her.
"Carole will be subject to the same procedures that were followed for (Carlos) when the red notice was received from Interpol."
Tokyo prosecutors on Tuesday issued an arrest warrant for Carole for alleged perjury related to the misappropriation charge against her husband.
A spokeswoman for Carole said that she had voluntarily returned to Japan nine months ago to answer prosecutors' questions and was free to go without any charges, adding that the warrant was "pathetic".
A fair trial?
Carlos Ghosn’s lawyer on Friday told Japan’s government that the authorities had failed to arrange for a fair trial that respected universal rights.
Francois Zimeray, French lawyer for Ghosn, said that it had been for Japan’s prosecutors to prove Ghosn’s guilt, not for Ghosn to prove his innocence.
“It belongs to the prosecution to prove guilt and not to the accused person to prove its innocence,” Zimeray said in a statement.
Japanese Justice Minister Masako Mori launched a rare and forceful public takedown of auto executive-turned-fugitive Ghosn after he blasted the country’s legal system as allowing him “zero chance” of a fair trial as he sought to justify his escape to Beirut.
Reporting by Hoda Monem, Dominique Vidalon and Richard Lough.