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Ex Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn released from Tokyo jail to prepare defence

Carlos Ghosn
Carlos Ghosn Eric Piermont/AFP

The former chairman of Nissan, Carlos Ghosn, has been released from the Tokyo detention house after posting bail. He was detained since his arrest in November on financial misconduct charges, which he has called meritless. The 1 billion yen (7.9 million euro) bail is among the highest ever paid in Japan.

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The Tokyo district court said Ghosn had paid the cash bail after it rejected an appeal by prosecutors to block his release, which allows him to meet regularly with his legal team and build a defence ahead of trial.

Ghosn, also the former chairman of Renault and Mitsubishi (and the architect behind the partnership between the three automakers), faces three charges of aggravated breach of trust and under-reporting his compensation for nearly a decade.

"I am innocent and totally committed to vigorously defending myself in a fair trial against these meritless and unsubstantiated accusations," he said in a statement on Tuesday.

The court had previously justified the lengthy detention, saying Ghosn posed a flight risk and could destroy evidence.

His bail request offered restrictions intended to win the court's trust, and Ghosn has agreed to surrender his passport to his lawyer and install cameras at the entrances and exits to his home. He is only allowed to access a computer at his lawyer’s office, he is prohibited from using the internet or sending and receiving text messages, and cannot communicate with anyone involved in his case

The court could still give approval to Ghosn to attend Nissan board meetings, as he remains a director there.

Aggressive defence

Ghosn's prolonged detention has brought criticism to Japan’s criminal justice system from international rights groups. Japan allows for suspects to be detained for weeks ahead of trial, and prohibits defence lawyers from being present during interrogations.

Last month Ghosn hired Junichiro Hironaka, a lawyer nicknamed "the Razor" for his success in obtaining acquittals in several high-profile cases. The hire suggests a shift to a more aggressive defence strategy.

Japanese courts have a conviction rate of 99.9 per cent, and if convicted on all charges, Ghosn faces a maximum sentence of up to 15 years in jail

Hironaka has already said that the charges against Ghosn should have been dealt as an internal company matter and that Japan was out of step with international norms by keeping his client in jail.

Ghosn’s former right-hand man, Greg Kelly, who was also detained 19 November on allegations he helped under-report his boss’ compensation, was freed on bail of 70 million yen (554,000 euros) on Christmas Day.

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