‘I’ll go anywhere I can get a fair trial’ says fugitive former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn

‘I’ll go anywhere I can get a fair trial’ says fugitive former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn
Former Renault-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn gestures as he addresses a journalists on his reasons for escaping trial in Japan, where he is accused of financial misconduct in Beirut on January 8, 2020. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 09 January 2020

‘I’ll go anywhere I can get a fair trial’ says fugitive former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn

‘I’ll go anywhere I can get a fair trial’ says fugitive former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn
  • Carlos Ghosn: Not running away from justice, but fleeing injustice
  • ‘I just want to clear my name’

DUBAI: Fugitive former Nissan and Renault boss Carlos Ghosn vowed Wednesday to clear his name and said he would willingly stand trial in front of an unbiased justice system.

Speaking at a press conference in Lebanon, Ghosn said he does not believe Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was involved in what he described as a “conspiracy” against him.

Mystery still surrounds the exact details of how he managed to leave Japan without being caught.

But the former chairman, who has been in hiding in Lebanon since fleeing Japan on Dec. 29, 2019, said: “I started planning my escape when I first learnt I had lost any chance of a fair trial.”

He added he was ‘not running away from justice, but fleeing injustice,’ explaining he did not believe he would get a fair trial in Japan.

When asked how he escaped from Japan, Ghosn would not comment, saying he did not want to get “any people in trouble.”

“‘I have to respect the people that helped me there… I can’t turn my back on them,” he said.

Ghosn explained that his arrest was a plot against him and described his detention conditions as a “travesty” against human rights.

He told journalists how he spent “130 days in solitary confinement (in a) tiny cell with no window, light day and night. 30 minutes per day (outside) except holidays.”

He said when there was a holiday, there was nobody around: “so you stay in your cell, you just get your food.”

He said he was only allowed two showers a week and he was refused more when he asked.

And he said he was presumed guilty before he had even entered a court room.

“I had many pretrial sessions. I was naive to think the judge was the boss. I was wrong. The boss was the prosecutor,” Ghosn said.

He said the court tried to delay the trial, questioning their motives, saying he left Japan without a date for his first charge.

“They came up with the idea that the trial cannot be put for all the charges at the same time. They wanted to finish the first charge before they started with the second one,” Ghosn said.

When he asked his lawyers how much time the trial would take, he said he was told he would have to “stay for five years until he got a judgement.”

He added there was no “sign of having a normal life for the next four to five years.”

The former Nissan CEO said the charges against him were “baseless.”

“Strings were being pulled and manipulated by those dead-set to getting an admission out of me,” he said.

Ghosn added prosecutors have leaked “false information” and had “continuously delayed a still undetermined trial date.”

Ghosn identified Hitoshi Kawaguchi, who previously handled government affairs for Nissan; Hidetoshi Imazu, the auto firm’s statutory auditor; and board member Masakazu Toyoda as the three main people behind a plot to topple him. 

He also described Hari Nada, senior vice president and adviser of Nissan Motor Co., as “part of the plot.”

Ghosn said: “this was not about justice. I felt I was a hostage of a country that I have served for 17 years. I dedicated my professional life; I was proud of it.

After Ghosn was arrested, his wife left but came back a few days later because the prosecutors said she had something to hide, he said.

“When she came back, they interrogated her in front of the Japanese judge and prosecutor,” Ghosn said.

The former Nissan chairman added that they issued an arrest warrant for “false testimony” nine months later.

Ghosn questioned the arrest warrant, saying that Japan’s court “suspected she said something wrong.”

He asked if it was a coincidence that his wife was issued an arrest warrant a day before his press conference.

He said he was prepared to face justice anywhere in the world, as long as it was a place where he could get a fair trial, adding: “I just want to clear my name.”