Since his arrest on suspicion of falsifying financial reports, Nissan's former Chairman Carlos Ghosn has been sitting in a humble cell for more than a month, interrogated day in and day out, without a lawyer present.
His case is drawing attention to the criminal justice system in Japan, where there is no presumption of innocence and the accused can be held for months before trial. The system, sometimes called "hostage justice," has come under fire from human rights advocates.
When a court denied Tokyo prosecutors' request to detain Ghosn another 10 days on Dec. 20, it was so unusual that the Japanese media reported he might be released. But such speculation was dashed when prosecutors rearrested him a day later on suspicion of breach of trust, tagging on a new set of allegations centered on Ghosn's shifting personal investment losses of some 1.8 billion yen ($16 million) to Nissan Motor. On Sunday, a court approved prosecutors' request to detain him through Jan. 1.
But his plight is routine in Japan. People have signed confessions, even to killings they never committed, just to get out of the ordeal.
A trial could be months away and could drag on even longer. And his chances aren't good: The conviction rate in Japan is 99 percent.
Those close to Ghosn and his family say he is asserting his innocence. But it is unclear when release may come for Ghosn, who led a two-decade turnaround at Nissan from near-bankruptcy. Tokyo prosecutors consider Ghosn, a Brazilian-born Frenchman of Lebanese ancestry, a flight risk.
Other nations may have legal systems that are criticized as brutal and unfair. The U.S., for instance, has its share of erroneous convictions, police brutality and dubious plea bargains. But, in the U.S., a person is presumed innocent, has the right to have an attorney present and gets freed within 72 hours if there is no charge.
Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond's School of Law, said such a longtime detention is highly unusual in the U.S.
"Each time the government reaches a deadline where Ghosn might be released, the government files new allegations and rearrests," he said.
Deputy Chief Prosecutor Shin Kukimoto said prosecutors are merely doing their job of "trying to carry out a proper investigation."
When asked by a reporter about "hostage justice," he replied: "We are not in a position to comment on how the law has been designed."