Ex-Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn makes fresh bail request

Lawyers for former Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn on Thursday filed a fresh bail request for the auto titan who has been detained for more than three months, the Tokyo District Court said.

It is the first bail request filed by the 64-year-old since he shook up his legal team as he crafts his defence to three charges of financial misconduct.

The former high-flying executive has been in detention since his shock November 19 arrest, and has tried repeatedly without success to secure bail.

Reached by AFP, an assistant lawyer for Ghosn’s lead attorney declined to explain how the bail request would differ from previous filings.

“We can’t comment on details, including any differences in approach this time. We plan to explain about details when we hold a news conference next week,” he said.

Ghosn’s previous legal team even deployed a rarely-used article of the Japanese constitution to force the court to explain why the Franco-Lebanese-Brazilian remained in detention.

A judge said Ghosn’s continued detention was justified because he posed a flight risk and there was a possibility he would conceal evidence.

Ghosn and his lawyers have argued that neither of those is the case, and he even offered to wear a tracking bracelet and hire guards to monitor his whereabouts, pledging to stay in Japan.

But so far the courts have shown no inclination to end his lengthy pre-trial detention, which has drawn some criticism internationally and from rights groups.

Prosecutors have defended his detention while they investigate three charges of financial misconduct, two involving alleged under-reporting of his salary and a third over a complex scheme in which Ghosn allegedly sought to transfer his losses to Nissan’s books.

Ghosn has denied all the allegations against him, and in an interview with AFP from his Tokyo detention he slammed his continued detention.

“Why am I being punished before being found guilty?” Ghosn asked, speaking to AFP and the Les Echos daily in January.

The refusal to grant him bail “would not be normal in any other democracy”, he said.

Ghosn earlier this month shook up his legal team, replacing his previous lead lawyer — a former prosecutor — with hot-shot lawyer Junichiro Hironaka, who has a history of taking on high-profile cases.

Ghosn’s November arrest sent shockwaves through the auto industry in Japan and beyond.

A towering figure once revered in Japan for turning around Nissan’s fortune, Ghosn also forged a successful alliance between Nissan, Mitsubishi Motors and France’s Renault.

But his attempts to deepen the alliance caused resentment in some quarters, and Ghosn has claimed the allegations against him are part of a “plot” by opponents of greater integration between the three firms.

© Agence France-Presse

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