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Nissan's Ghosn crisis

Ghosn faces up to 3 weeks in custody before indictment

Nissan chairman to be grilled on alleged misconduct without lawyer present

A TV camera points to the Tokyo Detention House, where Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn is believed to be held.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- The Tokyo District Court agreed on Wednesday to extend the detention of Nissan Motor Chairman Carlos Ghosn until at least Nov. 30, leaving him with the prospect of weeks of interrogation with little contact with an attorney.

Ghosn and fellow representative director Greg Kelly, both arrested Monday on allegations of understating the chairman's compensation by roughly 5 billion yen ($44.2 million), could be held until Dec. 10 if the added detention lasts the maximum 20 days allowed under the law.

While prosecutors must seek court approval to detain suspects beyond an initial 48-hour period, just 3.4% of such requests have been denied in recent years.

Ghosn's access to counsel during this time may be limited at best. Unlike in the U.S. and the U.K., suspects in Japan are not allowed to have an attorney present during interrogation. And suspects are often barred from meeting with those with an interest in their case -- such as, in this instance, people involved with Nissan.

Prosecutors could stretch the detention further by "re-arresting" Ghosn and Kelly on different charges. Nissan's investigation uncovered evidence of other wrongdoing beyond the misreported compensation.

French Ambassador to Japan Laurent Pic met with Ghosn -- who holds French citizenship -- at the Tokyo Detention House on Tuesday, according to the embassy. This unusual visit suggests that Paris is closely watching the case.

Whether Ghosn will be formally indicted when the detention period ends is the next big question. Suspects who deny charges brought against them are often not released on bail, a practice that has been labeled "hostage justice." Even when bail is granted, it can be set at the equivalent of millions or tens of millions of dollars.

The Japanese criminal justice system is known for its 99% conviction rate -- far higher than in Western countries.

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