Throughout the month of August 2019, Carole Ghosn and her husband’s defence team were kept busy providing explanations and appealing for action to show that Carlos Ghosn’s basic rights were not being respected, and that Japanese prosecutors were using every available means to maintain the pressure on him. 

In the New York Times, François Zimeray recounted how  Japanese prosecutors were gradually adding to the list of things that Carlos Ghosn was forbidden from doing, namely, leaving Tokyo, having any communication whatsoever with his wife, accessing the Internet away from his lawyers’ office, seeing people without informing the Court, etc.

Abuse of Japan’s new plea bargaining law offering immunity in exchange for cooperation with prosecutors

Japan’s new plea bargaining system was introduced in June 2018, a mere four months before the arrest of Carlos Ghosn.

According to the International Law Office website, Carlos Ghosn’s was only the second case in which prosecutors offered plea bargains in exchange for immunity to individuals who provided incriminating evidence and testimony against the accused. The prosecutors have steadfastly refused to provide Carlos Ghosn’s defence team with either the identity of the individuals who benefited from the plea bargains or their testimony. Indeed, the prosecutors who used this testimony in the course of the investigation, never bothered to compare their versions of events with Carlos Ghosn’s, or even to share the content of the charges with him and his defence team.

This same distrustful attitude is reflected in the refusal to share case files and in correspondence obtained illegally in the course of unauthorised searches.

Forbidden from speaking with his wife Carole

In addition – and as a matter of public record in the Court reports – the prosecutors also sought to justify the ban on Carlos and Carole Ghosn from communicating with each other. They claimed that Carole Ghosn was making unfounded allegations in the Japanese media about how her husband was being treated.

According to the prosecutors, Carole Ghosn was attracting international media attention and calling on the world to open its eyes to Japan’s “hostage justice” system. They wrote to the Court saying “there’s no way of shutting her up”.

The Japanese prosecutors view Carole Ghosn’s public statements as a threat that warrants retaliation in the form of a continued ban on any communication with her husband since he was released on bail for the second time. They also claim that Carole Ghosn is implicated in one aspect of the case and suspected of having destroyed evidence.

But none of this succeeded in blunting Carole Ghosn’s determination, even after the Court’s fifth refusal to allow her to communicate with her husband Carlos, after which she declared:

“For the fifth time, the court ruled that I cannot see my husband or communicate with him in any way. It has now been 124 days since we last communicated, and our basic human rights continue to be violated. This cruel separation with no end in sight is further evidence of his persecution under Japan’s hostage justice system – it is a vicious retaliation designed to break him.I look forward to the day he is vindicated, and our family is reunited. Until then, this [decision] has only strengthened my commitment to strive for a fair trial and, ultimately, his freedom.”

Carole Ghosn

International NGOs were also dismayed at the treatment meted out to Carlos Ghosn and the Executive Director of Human Rights Watch, Kenneth Roth, tweeted:

Trial date repeatedly postoned and never officially set

Furthermore, unlike what we are used to in Western legal systems, Carlos Ghosn was never granted access to all of his case files. It was only in the monthly pre-trial hearings that he and his defense team learned what information the prosecutors had gathered and what material they intended using in the case – without ever being given access to this material beforehand.

Moreover, the Court never set a trial date to judge the legal merits of the case.

This was the reason why Carole Ghosn, upon the occasion of the G7 summit, appealed to French President, Emmanuel Macron in a declaration as part of an approach that she explained on CNN:

As part of Carole Ghosn’s efforts to rally heads of state present at the G7 summit, the French lawyer François Zimeray explained how Carlos Ghosn’s human rights were being violated. He believed this case highlights the workings of the Japanese hostage justice system.

In an opinion piece published on the French JDD news site, François Zimeray discussed how “this extraordinary relentless pursuit of one man [by prosecutors] undermines any possibility of a fair trial”.