Ghosn's wife slams Japan detention as 'draconian' in letter

TOKYO (AP) — The wife of Nissan's former chairman Carlos Ghosn has written a letter to Human Rights Watch, an advocacy group, criticizing his long detention and Japan's criminal justice system as unfair and harsh.

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"My husband's is a case study in the realities of this draconian system," Carole Ghosn wrote in a nine-page letter Monday to the Tokyo branch of the global organization.

Ghosn, arrested Nov. 19, has been charged with falsifying financial reporting in underreporting his income and with breach of trust in having Nissan Motor Co. shoulder investment losses and making payments to a Saudi businessman. Last week, he asserted his innocence in a Tokyo court, his first public appearance since his arrest.

Carole Ghosn's letter describes how prosecutors interrogate prisoners without a lawyer present in an apparent effort to get a confession -- conditions that are routine for suspects in Japan. Japan's system has come under fire from international human rights groups, as her letter notes.

Confined to an unheated cell, Ghosn has lost almost 7 pounds (3 kilograms) in two weeks, with meals of mainly rice and barley, she wrote. He is denied his medication, given 30 minutes to exercise daily and is allowed to bathe two or three times a week, she said.

"No human being should be detained under conditions so harsh that their only plausible purpose is to coerce a confession," said the letter, which cited cases in which people were later found innocent but had been detained for months.


Tokyo Deputy Chief Prosecutor Shin Kukimoto told reporters last week the prosecutors are confident they have a case. Ghosn's lawyers have complained about the prolonged detention but their appeals have been rejected. Prosecutors say Ghosn is a flight risk and he may tamper with evidence. No trial date has been set.

Carole Ghosn's letter defended her husband's character and his record in the auto industry. Ghosn led Nissan for two decades, rescuing the Japanese automaker from near-bankruptcy.

"My husband is well known as a person of unimpeachable honor, honesty and integrity," she said in her letter.

Last week, she issued a shorter statement expressing worries about her husband's health when he had a fever. He has since recovered. Ghosn's family has not been able to meet with him, and so far only lawyers and embassy officials have been allowed visits.