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Carole Ghosn: "I am a housewife, not a vain woman"



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Media Title Carole Ghosn asks President Trump for support for her husband's lawsuit.

Carole Ghosn knew that her fight would get dirty when stories emerged involving her alleged financial crimes committed by husband Carlos.

I was painted as a ringleader, she claims. "I'm a housewife who raised three kids, and she makes me sound like this vindictive woman," says 52-year-old Beirut-born Ms. Ghosn.

Carlos Ghosn was once a titan of the corporate world

Earlier this year, she was questioned in a closed hearing before a court in Tokyo ̵

1; but never charged – to learn what she knew. She believes, however, that the real motive was "to drag me into the story to weaken Carlos – and silence me."

The last time she talked to her husband was that the police had taken him out of her apartment in Tokyo one morning in April.

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Caption

Carlos and Carole Ghosn at the Cannes Film Festival 2016

Mr. Ghosn, who was first detained last November, was arrested again on new charges. There was shock, tears, the kind of chaos you would expect to be wakened at 5:15 am by 20 people demanding entry into your home.

"I think they wanted to intimidate and humiliate us," she tells the BBC. She remembers being led around in the apartment, even in the shower room. "This woman even handed me the towel."

Ms. Ghosn is now defending herself with a campaign she hopes will result in her husband's treatment being raised at a G20 summit in Tokyo this month.

Ms. Ghosn is increasingly concerned about the health of the 65-year-old and angry that she has been denied access to him.

Falling in disgrace

"The lawyers told me that anything I say could hurt him in the trial to keep my mouth shut, but I want my husband back, I want him with me, I know that he is innocent. "Not for the first time during the interview, she is close to tears.

His guilt, however, is decided in court, not by the protests of Ms. Ghosn. And despite claims that her husband is innocent, Ms. Ghosn can not address the lawsuit in detail.

Carlos Ghosn's disfavor was spectacular. His jet-setting lifestyle collapsed when he was arrested aboard his private jet at Tokyo airport last year on allegations he underestimated his wages and benefits earned at Nissan near bankruptcy in a country known for his corporate life. He then orchestrated an alliance with Renault and Mitsubishi.

His success brought him the ear of presidents and prime ministers – and even a Japanese manga superhero animated series. Suddenly the couple's celebrated life was in ruins.

Mr. Ghosn was planning a Renault acquisition of Nissan, something that the elements in Japan had fiercely resisted. That's the real reason why Nissan went against him, she says. "It was a plot to get rid of him."

And that's why she is firmly convinced that he does not get a fair trial.

Nissan emphatically rejects the conspiracy claim. "The only cause of this chain of events is Carlos Ghosn's misconduct," the BBC company said. "Nissan's internal investigations have revealed significant signs of apparently unethical behavior, and further discoveries surrounding Ghosn's wrongdoing continue."

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Reuters

Caption

The couple is standing in front of the cameras in front of their home in Tokyo

During the 108-day detention, Ms. Ghosn was reportedly kept isolated in a cell with no heating during the winter, fed on skinny rations, and interrogated for hours without a lawyer – sometimes at night.

"He looked yellow when he was released on bail," she says. "I thought he had jaundice because he did not see sunlight." He was thin and mentally exhausted.

However, other allegations emerged: Nissan money was diverted to personal gain, and Renault funds were used after their marriage in 2016 for a private celebration at the Palace of Versailles. Ghosn's connections to a company registered in the Virgin Islands called Beauty Yachts.

Renault initially stood behind Mr Ghosn, but later accused him of "questionable and covert practices".

During the April raid and re-arrest, prosecutors seized Ms. Ghosn's Lebanese passport but found no US passport. She flew to France, where she asked for help from Emmanuel Macron, and then to America, where she called on Donald Trump to intervene.

Both governments said they "do whatever they can," said Ms. Ghosn, who also plans to call on Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to address her case.

"Inhuman and Cruel"

But are not the Ghosns just a rich, privileged couple seeking special treatment? To win public sympathies must be difficult? "We hurt, we suffer, and if you are rich or poor, you should have basic human rights."

She says that people are really shocked to hear about her husband's treatment, and that his trial is unlikely to begin until the next year. Although he is now on bail again, he must live under strict conditions in a court-appointed residence and is monitored by cameras around the clock. He can not leave Japan.

Ms. Ghosn says, "As ugly as the situation may be, there were people I did not know and who helped me, the support of strangers is one of the things that touched me the most." She hopes her campaign will at least shed light on what is known as Japan's "hostage justice" – long imprisonment and harsh conditions to force a confession.

Human Rights Watch, a New York-based advocacy group, says hostage justice "violates international human rights standards, including the presumption of innocence." Ms. Ghosn is duller: "It's inhuman and cruel."

She has filed two petitions to the United Nations claiming a violation of human rights and is supported by reformist Japanese lawyers.

Life is hard and lonely, she says. "I'm worried, worried, it's tragic what happened." But she does not intend to retire. "If you know that something is unfair, you get angry and want to fight more."

The BBC turned to the Japanese Embassy in Washington for comment.


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