GENEVA: Fugitive auto tycoon Carlos Ghosn’s multiple arrests and detentions in Japan before he dramatically fled the country last year were “arbitrary”, UN experts have ruled, urging Tokyo to pay him compensation.

In an opinion dated late last week and harshly condemned by Japan, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded that “the process of arresting and detaining Mr. Ghosn four times was fundamentally unfair”.

The working group, made up of five independent experts who do not speak on behalf of the United Nations and whose opinions are not binding, stressed that its findings did not pertain to the accusations against Ghosn, but only to the conditions surrounding his detention.

It ruled that the now 66-year-old’s detention was “arbitrary”, and also voiced concern that his bail conditions had been “unusually strict”, especially during the second period when he was barred from all contact with his wife, other than through lawyers.

The experts called on Tokyo to “take the steps necessary to remedy the situation of Mr Ghosn without delay”.

“The appropriate remedy would be to accord Mr Ghosn an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations, in accordance with international law,” it said.

The ex-Nissan chief’s lawyers Francois Zimeray and Jessica Finelle hailed the “courageous decision”, saying it represented “a decisive turning point.”

But the Japanese government slammed the findings, saying it “deeply regrets” that the experts had “rendered opinions based on limited information and biased allegations”, and not on “accurate understanding on Japan’s criminal justice system.” “The opinion is totally unacceptable.” Ghosn was dramatically arrested over financial misconduct allegations in November 2018 as he stepped off his private jet in Tokyo. He was granted bail after a few months, but was rearrested three more times, spending a total of 130 days in detention, before eventually smuggling himself out of Japan and fleeing to Lebanon, arriving in Beirut on December 30.

Published in Dawn, November 24th, 2020

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