Japan’s justice minister launched a rare and forceful public take down of auto executive-turned-fugitive Carlos Ghosn after he blasted the country’s legal system as allowing him “zero chance” of a fair trial as he sought to justify his escape to Beirut.
After his dramatic flight to Lebanon last month, Ghosn spoke in public for the first time on Wednesday, saying he had been treated “brutally” by Tokyo prosecutors.
He said they questioned him for up to eight hours a day without a lawyer present and tried to extract a confession out of him.
In an effort to undo Ghosn’s attempt to sway public opinion in his favor, Justice Minister Masako Mori followed shortly with a statement, translated into English and French, and held a news conference after midnight and again around 9:30 am on Thursday morning to defend Japan’s justice system.
“I decided to do this because defendant Ghosn was looking to justify his unlawful exit from Japan by propagating a false recognition of our justice system,” she said at the second news conference.
“I felt that we needed to respond immediately to broadcast a correct understanding to people around the world.”
Ghosn, the former chief of Nissan Motor Co Ltd and Renault SA , fled Japan last month as he was awaiting trial on charges of under-reporting earnings, breach of trust, and misappropriation of company funds, all of which he denies.
Mori said Ghosn’s escape from his trial in itself “could constitute a crime” that would not be tolerated in any country.
“My impression in listening to him was that there were few statements that were backed by any real evidence,” she said. “If he wants to prove his innocence, he should face fair trial proceedings here,” she added, stressing that the allegations against him concerned financial crimes in Japan.