The American father and son accused of assisting Nissan's former chairman, Carlos Ghosn, in escaping to Lebanon while awaiting trial in Japan have been sentenced to prison by a Tokyo court.
Michael Taylor received a two-year sentence, while his son Peter received a one-year and eight-month sentence.
They were accused of assisting a criminal in Ghosn's December 2019 escape, which he concealed in a box that was taken via Turkey to Lebanon on a private jet. There is no extradition treaty between Lebanon and Japan.
Chief judge Hideo Nirei, who handed out the sentence, said they had broken the law in a serious way because there is now almost no hope of putting Ghosn on trial.
“This case allowed Ghosn, a serious crime defendant, to flee overseas,” he stated.
Regardless of who was making the choices, he said, the two were plainly involved, despite the defense's claim that they were only utilized by Ghosn.
In November 2018, Ghosn was arrested in Japan on charges of underreporting his compensation and breaching trust by exploiting Nissan's funds for personal advantage. He claims that he is innocent and that he left Japan because he could not anticipate a fair trial.
In May 2020, the Taylors were apprehended in Massachusetts and extradited to Japan in March. They apologized throughout their trial, stating Ghosn had misled them about Japan's criminal justice system.
Michael Taylor sobbed and stated he was "broke," claiming that they had profited financially because the 1.3 million dollars (£944,000) Ghosn paid them only covered expenditures, according to prosecutors.
However, the judge stated that the court determined that the motive was financial. The Taylors have two weeks to file an appeal.
The father and son stood silently in front of the court, both dressed in dark suits and accompanied by guards.
Keiji Isaji, the Taylors' defense counsel, had pushed for a quick trial. Many trials in Japan last months, if not years.
In Japan, assisting a crime carries a maximum sentence of three years in jail. Michael Taylor was sentenced to two years and ten months in prison, while his son was sentenced to two years and six months.
The Taylors' lawyers pushed for suspended sentences for the two, who were held in detention in the United States for ten months before being extradited.
Ghosn left Tokyo in December 2019 and traveled to Osaka by bullet train. According to authorities, he concealed under a large box allegedly housing audio equipment at a hotel there, with air holes put in it so he could breathe.
Another individual, George-Antoine Zayek, is suspected of escaping but has yet to be apprehended.
Separately, Greg Kelly, a former top Nissan executive, is on trial in Tokyo on charges of falsifying Ghosn's income reports.
Kelly, who was detained at the same time as Ghosn, claims to be innocent as well.
Kelly's trial, which began in September of last year, is not anticipated to reach a conclusion until next year.
More than 99 percent of criminal cases in Japan end in convictions. Kelly faces a potential sentence of 15 years in jail if convicted of the charges.