A Turkish court on Friday released four pilots and a private airline official from jail; pending the outcome of their trial on charges of smuggling former Nissan Motor Co. chairman Carlos Ghosn; out of Japan to Lebanon, via Turkey.
The court, however, barred the five from leaving Turkey. It ordered them to report to authorities at regular intervals.
The five are on trial in Istanbul, along with two flight attendants; for allegedly aiding Ghosn to flee while awaiting trial in Japan.
Turkish prosecutors are seeking up to eight years in prison each.
The four pilots and the airline official on charges of illegally smuggling a migrant.
The two flight attendants, who were not under custody; 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 late last year.
He was flown from Osaka to Istanbul. Thereafter, he was then transferred onto another plane bound for Beirut, where he arrived Dec. 30.
He is believed to have been smuggled inside a large box.
In the first hearing of their trial.
The pilots and flight attendants denied involvement in the plans to smuggle Ghosn or of knowing that Ghosn was aboard the flights.
The airline official, Okan Kosemen, claimed he was made aware that Ghosn was on board the flight from Osaka to Istanbul after the plane landed.
He admitted helping smuggle Ghosn onto the second, Beirut-bound plane out of fear for the safety of his family.
Kosemen said that a business associate named, Nicolas Mezsaroz, who organized the flights called him through a messaging app to say that the Nissan CEO was on board the plane from Osaka.
“I was surprised, there were two passengers on the manifest, but there were three passengers,” Anadolu quoted Kosemen as telling court.
“Nicolas said: ‘we put him in the music box and took him out (of Japan).’”