Former Nissan head Carlos Ghosn leaves Japanese jail

07 March, 2019, 02:59 | Author: Billie Castillo
  • Japan court grants bail to former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn after three months in jail

Judges at the Tokyo District Court accepted defence lawyers' assurances that Ghosn would submit to extensive surveillance and set his bail at 1 billion yen (S$12.11 million), an apparent win for his new legal team on his third bail request since his arrest in November.

Hironaka said his team clarified specific measures that would be taken to significantly curb the risk of Ghosn tampering with or destroying evidence while out on bail.

Ghosn, 64, had been detained in the Tokyo Detention House in the Kosuge district since he was arrested on November 19 by the special investigation squad of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office on suspicion of understating his remuneration in the company's annual securities reports.

If convicted on charges of aggravated breach of trust and other charges he could spend up to a decade in jail.

The court OK'd Ghosn's bail after previously turning down similar applications in January.

Fellow Nissan executive and close aide Greg Kelly was arrested alongside Ghosn and was granted bail in December.

The case has sparked criticism of Japan's criminal justice system and some of its practices, including keeping suspects in detention for long periods and prohibiting defence lawyers from being present during interrogations, which can last eight hours a day. Some legal experts, including Hironaka, have criticized the system as "hostage justice", saying the long detentions tend to encourage false confessions.

Ghosn's arrest rocked the world's biggest auto alliance - which includes Mitsubishi Motors Corp. - at a time when the industry globally is wrestling with an array of challenges, from slowing sales in key markets such as the USA and China to long-term technological change requiring massive investment.

The 64-year old auto boss was removed as chairman by Nissan and Mitsubishi following his arrest.

Now that Ghosn has been released he will be able to defend himself "freely" and "calmly", Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told reporters in Paris Wednesday.

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In a shake-up of his legal team last month, Ghosn replaced a former prosecutor known as "the breaker" with Hironaka, who has earned the nickname "the acquitter" for his court record and the "razor" for his mental sharpness.

Mr. Ghosn's prolonged stay behind bars has come under fire internationally and from rights groups.

It is highly unusual in Japan for courts to grant bail to suspects who continue to maintain their innocence.

Ghosn has denied the allegations against him.

The lawyer represents Ghosn's wife, Carole - who in a recent interview with Paris Match magazine described her husband's detention conditions as "deplorable" - and children Caroline, Maya, Nadine and Anthony.

Nissan Motor Co. declined comment on the criminal case but said an internal investigation had found unethical conduct.

He says he is innocent of charges of falsifying Nissan financial information and breach of trust. They also name payments to a Saudi businessman that he says were for legitimate services.

"I am extremely grateful for my family and friends who have stood by me throughout this awful ordeal".

But Kyodo said Ghosn could still attend board meetings at Nissan, where he remains a director, if the court allows it.

The 64-year-old was freed after the same court on Tuesday rejected an appeal by prosecutors that, if successful, would have kept him in detention.

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