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Carlos Ghosn suffers ‘harsh’ jail treatment, wife tells Human Rights Watch

media Carlos Ghosn as depicted in a courtroom sketch during a hearing in Tokyo, 8 January 2019. Kyodo/Reuters

The wife of former Nissan chair Carlos Ghosn has written to the human rights NGO Human Rights Watch alleging that Japanese officials are trying to extract a confession from her husband, who has been jailed on charges of financial misconduct since 19 November.

In a nine-page letter shown to news agencies on Sunday, Carole Ghosn urges the Japanese office of New York-based campaigner to “shine a light on the harsh treatment of my husband and the human rights-related inequities inflicted upon him by the Japanese justice system”.

The letter claims that Ghosn, who chaired the powerful Franco-Japanese Renault-Nissan alliance of carmakers until shortly after arrest, is held in a cell that is lit up at night, is denied his daily medication and is subject to around-the-clock interrogations.

“For hours each day, the prosecutors interrogate him, browbeat him, lecture him and berate him, outside the presence of his lawyers, in an effort to extract a confessions,” the letter says.

Japanese authorities have charged Ghosn with under-reporting his salary over a period of eight years, trying to shift personal investment losses to Nissan in 2008 and using company funds to repay a friend.

The letter also claims prosecutors have pressed Ghosn to sign documents in Japanese, which he does not understand, and not in the presence of his lawyer.

Criticism of Japanese legal system

Ghosn’s detention has prompted some international criticism of Japan’s legal system, which allows for lengthy detentions during investigations and ahead of trials.

Since his detention began, Ghosn has only been able to receive visits from lawyers and diplomats from Brazil, France and Lebanon, the three countries where he holds citizenship. Family visits began following a court ruling last week.

Lawyers say Ghosn is unlikely to be freed before a trial, which could take six months to come to court, but also deny some of the allegations of the letter.

“Not once has Mr. Ghosn said to us he has any concerns about being asked to sign something in a language he doesn’t understand,” lead lawyer Motonari Otsuru told reporters last week.

Otsuru also said Ghosn has been moved to a larger cell with a Western-style bed and that he has not complained about the conditions of his detention.

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