Carlos Ghosn's lawyers say his treatment is illegal and inhuman

Prosecutors trying to force confession out of former Nissan chairman, says defence team

Carlos Ghosn’s lawyers have condemned his latest arrest as “inhuman”, saying that it has interrupted the former Nissan chairman’s treatment for chronic kidney failure and that prosecutors were attempting to force a confession out of him.

According to Reuters, Ghosn’s defence team said in documents prepared after he was arrested for a fourth time last week that Japanese prosecutors were trying to frustrate their preparations for his trial, a date for which has yet to be set.

One of the defence documents seen by Reuters described his latest arrest as “illegal”, and the resulting interruption to his medical treatment as “inhuman”.

Reuters quoted a person familiar with the conditions of Ghosn’s detention as saying he is being interrogated for up to 14 hours a day at the Tokyo detention centre, sometimes in the middle of the night.

(November 19, 2018) 

Ghosn is arrested by Japanese police at a Tokyo airport upon arrival in his private jet. This follows the arrest hours before of Nissan board member Greg Kelly, a key ally of Ghosn’s. Both are sent to a detention centre in Tokyo. Nissan and Mitsubishi say they will both remove Ghosn as chairman.

(November 26, 2018) 

Misubishi sacks Ghosn as chairman, following a similar move by Nissan.

(December 10, 2018) 

Prosecutors add to the charges against Ghosn and Kelly, who are accused of underreporting Ghosn’s income over five years to 2015. They are are rearrested on allegations of understating Ghosn’s income for three more years to March 2018.

(December 13, 2018) 

Renault initially decides to retain Ghosn as chairman and chief executive after finding no irregularities in his pay packages.

(December 21, 2018) 

Ghosn is re-arrested on allegations of aggravated breach of trust, accused of shifting personal investment losses to Nissan in 2008. The legal team for Kelly, who suffers from spinal stenosis and needs surgery, requests his release on bail, which is granted on 24 December after he pays 70 million yen (£507,025) in cash.

(January 8, 2019) 

Ghosn proclaims his innocence during a court hearing, his first public appearance following his arrest. A judge says his continued detention is necessary due to flight risk and the possibility he could conceal evidence.

(January 18, 2019) 

Nissan and Mitsubishi accuse Ghosn of receiving €7.8m (£6.9m) in “improper payments” from a joint venture between the Japanese carmakers.

(January 24, 2019) 

Renault appoints Jean-Dominique Senard as chairman and Thierry Bolloré as chief executive after Ghosn resigns from both roles.

(January 30, 2019) 

Ghosn accuses Nissan executives of a plot to oust him and prevent closer ties with Renault, in his first interview since his arrest in November.

(February 13, 2019) 

Renault’s board of directors votes unanimously to strip Ghosn of up to €30m (£26m) in pay and severance.

(March 6, 2019) 

Ghosn is released on bail and must live under strict bail conditions in Tokyo until his trial begins. His lawyer Motonari Otsuru quits.

(April 5, 2019) 

Ghosn is re-arrested.

(April 8, 2019) 

Nissan shareholders sack Ghosn from the company board and replace him with Renault chairman Jean-Dominique Senard. A day later Ghosn accuses Nissan executives of conspiring against him in a video.

(April 11, 2019) 

Ghosn’s lawyers condemn his latest arrest as “inhuman”, saying that it has interrupted the former Nissan chairman’s treatment for chronic kidney failure.

(April 25, 2019) 

A court in Japan grants $4.5m bail to Ghosn but he must stay in Japan and is not allowed to meet his wife, Carole, without the court’s permission.

(December 31, 2019) 

Ghosn flees court-imposed bail ahead of his trial and arrives in Lebanon. He issues a statement in which he says he will “no longer be held hostage by a rigged Japanese justice system where guilt is presumed”. His escape is believed to have involved him being hidden in a musical instrument case that was then flown out of the country.

Julia Kollewe

The court documents include an account by Carole Ghosn of the morning of her husband’s latest arrest.

Mrs Ghosn, who appeared in court on Thursday as a witness, said prosecutors had prevented her from contacting her lawyer when they entered the couple’s rented apartment in Tokyo.

She said she had been repeatedly subjected to body searches, forced to keep the bathroom door open when using the lavatory and that a female investigator was present in the bathroom when she undressed to take a shower.

“I felt that they were humiliating and coercing me with these inhuman actions,” she said in the account, dated 4 April.

She left Japan for France last Friday in an attempt to win support for her husband from the French government. She returned this week for an appearance at Tokyo district court over the latest allegations that her husband had misused Nissan funds.

Carlos Ghosn’s lead defence lawyer, Jun’ichirō Hironaka, confirmed thatCarole had answered prosecutors’ questions for three hours but declined to discuss details. “She responded in good faith, as she had promised to,” he said.

Ghosn denies three charges: two over allegations that he underreported his salary in financial documents and one that he used Nissan funds to cover personal investment losses. He was rearrested last Thursday over allegations that he caused Nissan $5m (£3.8m) in losses by channelling cash from a discretionary company fund into a firm run by his wife, which was used to buy a luxury yacht.

The 65-year-old, who was credited with rescuing the Japanese carmaker from the brink of bankruptcy two decades ago and masterminded a successful alliance with Renault, denies all of the charges.

In a video message recorded shortly before he was rearrested while on bail, Ghosn claimed that “backstabbing” Nissan executives had conspired to have him arrested to prevent him from forging closer ties with the French carmaker.

Sign up to the daily Business Today email or follow Guardian Business on Twitter at @BusinessDesk

He was arrested for the first time last November and spent 108 days in detention before being released on bail in early March.

The Frenchman, who also has Brazilian and Lebanese nationality, is due to remain in detention until Sunday, when prosecutors can apply to hold him for a further 10 days. After that they must release him unless they bring charges or file new allegations.

His case has prompted criticism of Japan’s system of “hostage justice”, which allows prosecutors to hold suspects without charge for long periods and question them without their lawyer present.


Justin McCurry in Tokyo and agencies

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Carlos Ghosn's arrest may spark a French-Japanese bunfight | Nils Pratley
Nissan’s Hiroto Saikawa publicly trashed his ex-chairman’s legacy and the extent of his power

Nils Pratley

19, Nov, 2018 @8:20 PM

Article image
Renault finds no illegal payments to Carlos Ghosn in past two years
Investigation will now examine payments made to former Nissan chairman before 2017

Jasper Jolly

10, Jan, 2019 @10:14 PM

Article image
Carlos Ghosn's escape from Japan 'was aided by Lebanese officials'
Ousted chairman of Nissan had surrendered his passports as part of his bail conditions

Martin Chulov and Jasper Jolly

31, Dec, 2019 @6:41 PM

Article image
Carlos Ghosn's escape puts spotlight on the former aide left behind
Ex-Nissan boss’s flight to Lebanon also renews focus on Japan’s much-criticised justice system

Jasper Jolly

31, Dec, 2019 @1:24 PM

Article image
Renault accuses Carlos Ghosn of violating company ethics
Investigation into former boss found ‘questionable practices’, French carmaker says

Jasper Jolly and Justin McCurry in Tokyo

03, Apr, 2019 @6:21 PM

Article image
Carlos Ghosn says 'backstabbing' Nissan conspiring against him
In video message ex-chairman says he is innocent and talks of fears for company’s future

Justin McCurry in Tokyo

09, Apr, 2019 @10:41 AM

Article image
Nissan launches $90m lawsuit against former chairman Carlos Ghosn
Japanese carmaker seeking damages for ‘corrupt’ actions by ex-boss who fled to Lebanon

Jasper Jolly

12, Feb, 2020 @11:52 AM

Article image
'A kind of nightmare': Carlos Ghosn's press conference – key points
The former Renault-Nissan boss faced the media for the first time since he fled Japan. Here’s what we learned

Graeme Wearden

08, Jan, 2020 @5:41 PM

Article image
Nissan board sacks chairman Carlos Ghosn after 'serious misconduct' claims
Ghosn was said to have enjoyed ‘too much authority’ during his time at the vehicle maker

Justin McCurry in Tokyo and agencies

22, Nov, 2018 @12:05 PM

Article image
Nissan tries to bar Carlos Ghosn from Rio property over corruption scandal
The firm fears Brazil-born Carlos Ghosn may destroy evidence if granted access to the apartment by the courts

Simon Goodley

09, Dec, 2018 @7:46 PM