Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 24 May 2019

In Carlos Ghosn's ancestral homeland, people gather to 'pray for justice'

Family and friends of the ex-Nissan boss gathered for an Easter mass

Friends, relatives and well-wishers attend a mass for embattled former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn. The National, Sunniva Rose
Friends, relatives and well-wishers attend a mass for embattled former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn. The National, Sunniva Rose

Around 200 people gathered on Monday to pray for “justice” for ex-Nissan Motors chairman Carlos Ghosn during an Easter mass celebrated in a Maronite church in Beirut.

Though he was born in Brazil, Mr Ghosn’s parents were of Lebanese heritage and he spent much of his childhood in the country.

Maronite Christians represent a significant percentage of the country’s Christian population in a country roughly equally divided between Christians, Sunni Muslims and Shia Muslims, though there are no official statistics.

“Carlos is part of our family whether he is acquitted or not. We hope our prayer comforted him and that justice will be done”, said father Charbel Batour, who officiated the mass in Saint Maroun Church, a stone’s throw away from one of Mr Ghosn’s many luxury houses.

Once a symbol of success in the Lebanese diaspora, Mr Ghosn is currently in detention and awaiting trial in Japan. Tokyo prosecutors indicted the 65-year old on fresh charges of aggravated breach of trust on Monday.

He already faces three other charges and were released in March after spending 108 days in jail. Mr Ghosn denies all allegations against him and says they are the result of a plot.

That belief was widely shared among those attending the mass in Beirut’s Gemmayze. “The poor guy is a victim”, said Daniele Aramouni, who was not aware that the mass would be dedicated to Mr Ghosn at the request of a Lebanese cousin. “I’m doubly happy to have come now that I know”.

Several of the 65-year-old’s acquaintances who attended the mass had harsh words for the Japanese judiciary. “I used to hope to visit Japan one day, but not anymore”, said Naji Khoury, who went to the same school as Mr Ghosn. “I would not feel safe knowing they could arrest me at any time. Japan is a dictatorial country where people are treated with contempt”.

Michel Chkaibane, who used to be Mr Ghosn’s scoutmaster, said that his detention was a symbolic “assassination”.

“You cannot imagine how saddened I am by what is happening to him. Shame on Japan,” he said.

Sadness was the strongest feeling expressed by well-wishers. Sitting in a cafe near the church before mass, some of his cousins seemed at loss for words. “Everything that is happening to him is just so sad,” said one, gesturing with her hands, before letting her voice trail off and staring into space.

Updated: April 23, 2019 02:52 PM

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