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Japan to send vice justice minister to Lebanon over Ghosn escape

The 65-year-old businessman fled Japan while awaiting trial on charges of financial misconduct [Getty]

Date of publication: 28 February, 2020

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Deputy justice minister Hiroyuki Yoshiie will head to Lebanon Saturday to meet the Lebanese justice minister.

Japan on Friday said it would send a deputy justice minister to Lebanon after failed attempts to get former Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn to return for trial on financial misconduct charges.

Hiroyuki Yoshiie, a deputy to Justice Minister Masako Mori, is to leave Tokyo on Saturday to meet the Lebanese justice minister and other officials, the ministry confirmed.

He will return to Tokyo on Tuesday.

"The accused (Ghosn) fled to Lebanon. We need to have people there understand Japan's justice system correctly," a justice ministry official told AFP while refraining from saying whether the visit was directly aimed at negotiating Ghosn's handover.

"There has been criticism in the international community of Japan's justice system. We need to promote a correct understanding of our system and deepen cooperation with Lebanon," said the official who declined to be named.

Ghosn was arrested in November 2018 on financial misconduct charges and spent 130 days in detention.

He dramatically jumped bail and fled Japan at the year end, leaving officials red-faced.

They have demanded Ghosn return to face trial but Lebanon does not have an extradition treaty with Japan.

Read more: The murder case haunting Lebanon's most famous pop diva Nancy Ajram and her 'Insta-famous' family

Ghosn has denied all the charges and claimed he was a victim of a plot by Nissan and Japanese officials.

He and his legal team also referred to the extended periods of detention as "hostage justice", arguing the prosecutors were trying to force him to admit charges that he continues to deny.

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