For­mer Nis­san chief Car­los Ghosn suf­fer­ing 'dra­co­nian' treat­ment in jail, wife says

The Guardian Australia - - World News - Justin McCurry in Tokyo and agen­cies

The wife of the for­mer Nis­san chair­man Car­los Ghosn has urged hu­man rights cam­paign­ers to high­light Ja­panese pros­e­cu­tors’ “dra­co­nian” treat­ment of her hus­band dur­ing his pro­longed de­ten­tion on charges of fi­nan­cial mis­con­duct.

In a nine-page let­ter to the Ja­pan of­fice of Hu­man Rights Watch, Ca­role Ghosn al­leged that pros­e­cu­tors have sub­jected her hus­band to hours of daily in­ter­ro­ga­tion in or­der to ex­tract a con­fes­sion.

The let­ter also claims that Ghosn, who was briefly taken ill with a fever last week, is be­ing held in an un­heated cell that is lit even at night and is be­ing de­nied his daily med­i­ca­tion.

Ghosn, who has been in de­ten­tion since his ar­rest on 19 Novem­ber, faces two charges of un­der-re­port­ing his salary by tens of mil­lions of dol­lars, ap­par­ently to avoid crit­i­cism from Nis­san em­ploy­ees that he was paid too much. A third charge al­leges that he trans­ferred per­sonal in­vest­ment losses to Nis­san and used com­pany funds to make pay­ments to a Saudi busi­ness as­so­ciate.

In his first ap­pear­ance since his ar­rest, Ghosn last week pro­claimed his in­no­cence dur­ing a spe­cial court ses­sion, claim­ing that he had been “wrongly ac­cused” and “un­fairly de­tained”.

His lengthy de­ten­tion has sparked in­ter­na­tional crit­i­cism of Ja­pan’s “hostage jus­tice” sys­tem, which per­mits pros­e­cu­tors to re-ar­rest sus­pects over sep­a­rate al­le­ga­tions and keep them in de­ten­tion for long pe­ri­ods with the aim of ex­tract­ing a con­fes­sion.

More than 99% of crim­i­nal cases in Ja­pan end in a con­vic­tion, with most se­cured through con­fes­sions.

“In Ja­pan, sus­pects are rou­tinely and re­peat­edly in­ter­ro­gated by pros­e­cu­tors out­side the pres­ence of their lawyers; have no pos­si­bil­ity for bail un­til af­ter they have been in­dicted; have lim­ited ac­cess to coun­sel; and are forced to sit and lis­ten to in­ter­ro­ga­tions even when they choose to ex­er­cise their right to re­main silent,” Ca­role Ghosn said in her let­ter.

“My hus­band’s treat­ment is a case study in the re­al­i­ties of this dra­co­nian sys­tem. For hours each day, the pros­e­cu­tors in­ter­ro­gate him, brow­beat him, lec­ture him and be­rate him, out­side the pres­ence of his at­tor­neys, in an ef­fort to ex­tract a con­fes­sion.”

Ghosn’s head lawyer, Mo­tonari Ot­suru, last week de­nied that his client was be­ing pres­sured to sign a con­fes­sion, adding that he had not com­plained to his le­gal team about con­di­tions at the Tokyo de­ten­tion cen­tre. Ot­suru said Ghosn, who was ini­tially kept in a tiny cell with a fu­ton, had been moved to a big­ger cell with a bed.

Ghosn has so far been de­nied vis­its from his fam­ily dur­ing his de­ten­tion, with only his lawyers and em­bassy of­fi­cials granted per­mis­sion to meet him.

He is be­ing held in a 7 sq m (75 sq feet), un­heated cell, ac­cord­ing to Ca­role Ghosn, eats mainly rice and bar­ley­based meals and has lost 7 kg (15 lb) over the past two weeks. He is al­lowed to ex­er­cise for 30 min­utes and to take two or three baths a week, she added.

Ghosn’s lawyers have con­ceded that he is likely to re­main in de­ten­tion un­til his trial be­gins, mainly be­cause he main­tains his in­no­cence and is con­sid­ered a flight risk. No trial date has been set, and it could be at least six months be­fore his case comes to court.

Pho­to­graph: Kim­i­masa Mayama/EPA

Car­los Ghosn faces two charges of un­der-re­port­ing his salary by by tens of mil­lions of dol­lars.

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