National / Crime & Legal

Ghosn grilling averaged seven hours a day, says ex-Nissan chief's lawyer in Japan


A lawyer for former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn, who fled to Lebanon at the end of December while awaiting trial in Japan, said his client was questioned for an average of seven hours a day without a lawyer present.

Takashi Takano wrote Saturday in a post on his blog that the questioning continued through weekends, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Takano has said he told Ghosn he couldn’t expect a fair trial in Japan, but that his chances of winning were good because the evidence against him was so weak.

Japan’s judicial system has come under fire over Ghosn’s case. Critics have for years said the prolonged detentions tend to coerce false confessions. Suspects can be detained even without any charges.

Prosecutors and Justice Minister Masako Mori have repeatedly defended the nation’s system as upholding human rights, noting that Japan boasts a low crime rate. Mori said the system follows appropriate procedures under Japanese law, stressing that every culture is different.

Takano said he recently looked at prosecutors’ data and Ghosn’s notes to tally the hours of questioning for 70 of the days Ghosn was detained. On three days, Ghosn had been questioned for some 11 hours, according to Takano’s tally.

Ghosn was detained under two separate arrests for 130 days in total. He has been charged with underreporting his future compensation and of breach of trust in diverting Nissan Motor Co. funds for alleged personal gain.

In a news conference held in Beirut last week, which lasted more than two hours, Ghosn reasserted his innocence and accused Nissan and Japanese government officials of plotting his removal.

Ghosn, who led Nissan for two decades, has said the compensation was never decided and that the payments were for legitimate business.

Much of his news conference was devoted to criticizing Japan’s justice system as rigged and harsh. He said he had been grilled without a lawyer present while held in solitary confinement, and advised all foreigners to leave.

Last week, Takano said at first he had felt sad and betrayed that Ghosn didn’t try to show his innocence in court, but also expressed understanding about how Ghosn might have lost hope not only with the prosecutors but with Japan’s entire judicial system.