Mike Taylor and his son Peter have pleaded guilty in a Japanese court, marking the beginning of the next chapter in a saga that spans an international escape and evasion, Lebanese financiers, a defrocked corporate CEO, and a controversial extradition process.
The Taylors were accused by the Japanese government of smuggling former Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn out of the country while he was pending criminal charges stemming from a corporate merger that he had been backing.
The Taylors were alleged to have put together an escape and evasion plan in which Ghosn escaped house arrest, took a bullet train to an airport, and was loaded onto a private jet inside a music case with air holes drilled into the bottom.
When Ghosn suddenly appeared in his home country of Lebanon, the escape became an international sensation in the press. With the Japanese government deeply embarassed by the incident, they requested the extradition of former Green Beret Mike Taylor and his son from the United States.
Ghosn continues to reside in Lebanon, which has no extradition treaty with Japan, few countries do, as human rights groups cite Japan's harsh approach to justice and their 99 percent conviction rate.
After a lengthy and hard-fought legal process in the American court system in which the Taylors asserted that their human rights would be violated in a Japanese prison, Judge Indira Talwani decided to grant the extradition request.
"The prison conditions in Japan may be deplorable and although the criminal procedures that the Taylors may be subjected to may not satisfy American notions of due process," Talwani said when she decided to extradite them. The two men were remitted to Japanese custody in March.
A family member told Connecting Vets that well over a dozen Japanese police officers escorted the Taylors to Japan where they were held in pre-trial confinement, kept in freezing cold prison cells, and only permitted to send the occasional letter to their families.
Confinement in Japanese prisons is intentionally harsh in order to elicit confessions, which is how their conviction rates are so high.
Sources close to the Taylors informed Connecting Vets that pleading guilty was their best hope of ever returning to the United States, otherwise, they said Mike and Peter could be held almost indefinitely without a trial.
By pleading guilty to helping Ghosn jump bail, they will face a maximum sentence of 18 months. The Taylors hope they will only have to serve half that time and hope time served in American jail will be counted towards their sentence in Japan.
The Taylors have their next court appearance at the end of June.