National / Crime & Legal

Japanese court checked Ghosn's 24/7 surveillance video just once a month


Nissan’s former Chairman Carlos Ghosn, who skipped bail and turned up in Lebanon, was last seen on surveillance video leaving his Tokyo home alone, presumably to board his getaway plane.

Although the security cameras at his home were on 24 hours, the footage was only required to be submitted to the court once a month, on the 15th, according to lawyers’ documents detailing his bail conditions.

Records of his phone calls, internet use and meetings were also submitted every month.

Electronic tethers common in the U.S. are not used in Japan for bail. Ghosn had offered to wear one when he requested bail.

The Sankei Shimbun daily reported Saturday that his flight happened just as a private security company hired by Nissan Motor Co. to keep watch over Ghosn stopped work.

Ghosn had been preparing a complaint against the security company, according to the Sankei.

His lawyer Junichiro Hironaka has complained that spying on his client was a violation of human rights, but he declined to say who might be behind it.

Nissan was closed for the holidays and not immediately available for comment. The Sankei said Nissan was worried the surveillance conditions set by the court weren’t sufficient to keep tabs on Ghosn.

Hironaka told NHK late Friday that Ghosn was carrying one of his French passports in a locked plastic case so it could be read without unlocking it in case he was stopped by authorities. The lawyers had the key. He told NHK the case could have been smashed with a hammer. Hironaka has denied any knowledge of the escape.

All foreign nationals in Japan are required to carry passports or other ID to show to police or other officials, when necessary. It is unclear whether the French passport is the one Ghosn used to enter Lebanon.

Lebanese authorities have said Ghosn entered legally on a French passport, though was required to surrender all his passports to his lawyers under the terms of his bail. He also holds Brazilian and Lebanese citizenship.

Video footage at Ghosn’s home shows him exiting on Dec. 29, according to NHK. An earlier report said he was carted out in a musical instrument case.

Turkish airline company MNG Jet said two of its planes were used illegally in Ghosn’s escape, first flying him from Osaka to Istanbul, then on to Beirut, where he arrived Monday and has not been seen since.

It said an employee admitted to falsifying flight records so Ghosn’s name did not appear, adding that he acted “in his individual capacity” without MNG Jet’s knowledge. The company did not say to whom the jets were leased or identify the employee.

Interpol has issued a wanted notice for Ghosn. Japan has no extradition treaty with Lebanon and it appeared unlikely he would be handed over.

It’s not clear how Japan might respond.

The defiant and stunning escape of such a high-profile suspect while awaiting trial on financial misconduct allegations has raised serious questions about the surveillance methods of the Japanese bail system.

Some may argue that bail decisions here should become more stringent despite the already restrictive nature of obtaining it.

Also, trials and legal preparations take far longer in Japan, where the conviction rate is higher than 99 percent.

Government offices were shut down for the New Year’s holidays, and there have been no official statements.