A growing list of runaways

TOKYO • Japan has said it will tighten bail conditions, including making electronic tracking compulsory for suspects who are out on bail, after the daring escape by auto titan Carlos Ghosn.

This comes amid criticisms that his flight was possible only because his bail terms were too relaxed. For all his complaints about brutal policing and "hostage justice", Ghosn was not under house arrest.

While he was not allowed to talk to his wife Carole without approval, as police suspected her involvement in the case against him, the 65-year-old, who has Brazilian, French and Lebanese passports, did not bother keeping a low profile when out on bail, walking around without a minder or bodyguard.

The New York Times also reported this week that two days before his improbable flight, he visited a restaurant where he enjoyed his favourite salad with sesame dressing, and posed for photographs with about 40 customers.

Now an international fugitive in Lebanon with an Interpol Red Notice hanging over his head, Ghosn may be the most high-profile of Japan's bail jumpers. A similar Red Notice has been issued for his wife, who is now wanted in Japan for perjury.

But there is a growing list of runaways who have managed to give the authorities the slip in recent years.

They may not have Ghosn's riches and connections at their disposal to arrange for a private jet to whisk them out of the country, but they still managed to evade capture for days, even weeks.

In June last year, a convicted thief in Kanagawa, Makoto Kobayashi, 43, fled by car after brandishing a knife at prosecutors. He was re-arrested after four days.

Four months later, in October, 49-year-old Kimie Noguchi, accused of traffic violations, was assisted in a getaway by her son in Osaka. She evaded capture for three days.

In 2018, Junya Hida, 30, who was arrested for rape and other crimes, fled a police station in Osaka and quickly disguised himself as a cyclist on a nationwide tour.

As many as 4,000 officers were mobilised to hunt him down, but he was recaptured only after seven weeks.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 11, 2020, with the headline 'A growing list of runaways'. Print Edition | Subscribe