Tokyo court denies ex-Nissan chief Ghosn’s bail request

TOKYO (AFP) – A Tokyo court yesterday rejected a request by former Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn for bail following fresh charges, dashing his hopes for an early release from his Japanese jail cell.

The decision means the 64-year-old auto tycoon is likely to stay in custody until his trial, which even his own defence lawyer has admitted could take six months to begin.

The Tokyo District Court said in a statement that “a request filed by lawyers for his bail release was rejected”.

Ghosn’s main defence lawyer Motonari Otsuru immediately vowed to appeal the court decision.

Last Friday, prosecutors pressed formal charges against Ghosn over two more allegations of financial misconduct – all of which the Franco-Brazilian-Lebanese businessman denies.

This May 12, 2016 file photo shows then Nissan Motor Co President and CEO Carlos Ghosn answering a question during a joint press conference with Mitsubishi Motors Corp in Yokohama, near Tokyo. – AP

In a dramatic courtroom appearance yesterday, Ghosn denounced the allegations against him, saying he had been “wrongly accused and unfairly detained”.

He has been indicted on two counts of allegedly under-declaring his income by more than nine billion yen (USD83 million) in total over eight fiscal years in documents to shareholders.

Ghosn also stands charged with “aggravated breach of trust” over a complex alleged scheme in which he is said to have tried to transfer foreign exchange losses to Nissan’s books.

His ongoing detention has prompted some international criticism of Japan’s legal system, which permits prosecutors to hold suspects while they investigate an allegation, and also allows lengthy pre-trial detention once charges have been filed.

Carole Ghosn, his wife, has alleged her husband is being held in “harsh” conditions and subjected to round-the-clock interrogations intended to extract a confession.

In a letter to Human Rights Watch, she sought to “press the government to reform its draconian system of pre-trial detention and interrogation”. But Deputy Chief Prosecutor Shin Kukimoto has defended Japan’s investigative procedures, saying he had anticipated overseas criticism.

“We expected various reactions since it is a criminal investigation into a globally famous person,” he said.

“We are acting appropriately in accordance with the existing laws.”

However, some local media have expressed understanding of the criticism from overseas. The Asahi Shimbun daily said in an editorial that the country “needs a debate towards improvement” of its controversial legal system.