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Tokyo prosecutors set to keep up Ghosn grilling through New Year's holiday

Carlos Ghosn (Mainichi/Noriko Tokuno)

TOKYO -- The Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office's special investigation unit is set to question former Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn even during the office's winter break over allegations that he shifted personal investment losses to the Japanese auto giant.

Ghosn, 64, was served a fresh arrest warrant on Dec. 21 on suspicion of aggravated breach of trust under the Companies Act in connection with the case. The new warrant allowed prosecutors to continue to detain Ghosn for another 10 days until Jan. 1.

As attorneys are not allowed to see their clients behind bars on public holidays, Ghosn's defense lawyer has requested that the Tokyo Detention Center permit meetings with the ex-chairman even on holidays. The detention house is expected to comply with the request.

If Ghosn's detention is extended by another 10 days, he would remain behind bars until Jan. 11.

The Justice Ministry and the Japan Federation of Bar Associations have set rules on consultations between suspects and their lawyers, including that sessions on Saturdays are limited to the morning and that holiday sessions are only acceptable on the first public holiday after an arrest, in principle.

Ghosn's lawyer has argued that "it is unfair not to be able to meet my client during the five days over the year-end and New Year holiday period, even though prosecutors will be allowed to question him," and called for exceptional treatment.

Osamu Watanabe, a professor at Konan Law School who specializes in the Code of Criminal Procedure, commented, "It is indispensable for suspects to receive advice from their lawyers based on how their questioning unfolds. If interrogations can take place on public holidays, then defense lawyers should naturally be allowed to see their clients as part of the latter's exercise of their right to an attorney guaranteed by the Constitution."

Ghosn is also under indictment on charges of violating the Financial Instruments and Exchange Act for allegedly underreporting his remuneration by several billion yen.

Meanwhile, former Nissan representative director Greg Kelly, who was arrested and indicted on the same charges as Ghosn, was released from the Tokyo Detention Center on bail on the night of Dec. 25. He has since been hospitalized in Ibaraki Prefecture.

According to his attorney, Kelly, 62, talked over the phone with his wife in the United States during the ride from Tokyo to Ibaraki upon his release. Commenting on a private hospital room he was given, he reportedly said that it was more spacious than his single cell at the detention house.

Looking back on the more than one-month detention since his arrest in November, Kelly reportedly complained that he was worn out. For now, he will concentrate on treatment for a chronic neck problem, and is not planning to hold a press conference.

Kelly does not intend to comply with any request from Tokyo prosecutors' special investigation unit to question him over his alleged role in underreporting Ghosn's income from fiscal 2015 through 2017.

(Japanese original by Kenji Tatsumi, Kazuhiro Toyama and Kim Suyeong, City News Department)

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