Carlos Ghosn’s Japanese lawyers quit after the former Nissan boss runs away

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese lawyers representing Carlos Ghosn, including lead attorney Junichiro Hironaka, resigned on Thursday after the former Nissan chief’s flight to Lebanon from Japan, where he had been fighting for charges of financial misconduct.

In a statement sent by email, Hironaka said that everyone involved in the case in his practice had resigned. A spokeswoman there refused to give a reason.

A second lawyer on Ghosn’s three-person legal team, Takashi Takano, also resigned on Thursday, according to an official at his office.

A person who answered the phone at the office of the third lawyer, Hiroshi Kawatsu, said he did not know if he still represented the former automotive executive.

Ghosn, who fled Tokyo last month, told Reuters in an interview in Beirut with his wife Carole that he was happy to stay in Lebanon for the rest of his life and said he was treated with “brutality” during his detention and freedom on bail in Japan.

Carole said he was “done with Japan.”

Japan has issued international search notices for the couple, which means they will both live in Lebanon as fugitives and could be arrested if they leave their country.

Hironaka, who previously expressed disappointment at his client’s decision to escape, had said he would resign once Ghosn had cleared his account.

The case threw a hard light on Japan’s justice system, lighting a fierce advertising battle between the former businessman and Justice Minister Masako Mori, who described Ghosn’s criticism as “absolutely intolerable.”

Ghosn spent more than 120 days in a Tokyo detention center and was interrogated most days, often for more than seven hours without his lawyers, Takano said.

Prosecutors questioned him during the first 43 days without rest, including Christmas and New Year.

On Thursday, Ghosn found an ally in another foreigner, Australian sports journalist Scott McIntyre, who was held for 44 days for raid in an attempt to obtain information about his missing children. He pleaded guilty to the charge and was released on Wednesday with a suspended sentence of six months.

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At a press conference, McIntyre, who was being held in the same detention center as Ghosn, in western Tokyo, during part of his detention, described the conditions there as “torture.”

Japanese officials reject such criticism, saying that the justice system is human and protects human rights.

McIntyre said the lights were on 24 hours a day, making it impossible to sleep more than an hour at night, and that several of his fellow detainees told him they would confess crimes they had not committed to shorten their time there.

Reports by Sam Nussey, Tim Kelly and Chang-Ran Kim; David Dolan and Clarence Fernandez edition

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