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'Charismatic businessman' Ghosn looked thinner in court appearance

People line up in front of the Tokyo District Court to obtain tickets to attend the court hearing of former Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward on Jan. 8. (Mainichi/Tatsuya Fujii)

TOKYO -- Former Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn appeared leaner than before his arrest 50 days ago when he attended a hearing at the Tokyo District Court on Jan. 8 to be briefed on the reasons for his detention on suspicion of aggravated breach of trust.

As courtroom No. 425 opened for the hearing at 10:30 a.m., some 40 people in the gallery focused their attention on Ghosn. The "charismatic business manager" was clad in a white shirt, creased black suit and no tie, and walked in blue slippers. He was handcuffed and attached to a leash on his waist.

He was guided by two detention center officials, and took a seat on the left of Judge Yuichi Tada.

When prompted by the judge, the businessman stood up and stated his name in a clear voice: "Carlos Ghosn Bichara." He was then asked if he is a company director, and Ghosn tartly replied, "It is." As the judge began explaining the reasons for his detention, Ghosn sat down and listened to Tada, while looking at the gallery at times.

A crowd of would-be observers and journalists began to gather from the early hours in front of the Tokyo court. As many as 1,122 people applied for just 14 slots set aside for the general public to witness the court proceedings while more than 100 reporters stood outside the courthouse to cover the hearing.

Ghosn's lawyer explained to him about this hearing opportunity late last year in which the suspect can state his opinion about his detention. Ghosn said he wanted to express his opinion at the hearing, saying he wanted the judge to listen to his view.

Meanwhile, an individual linked to Nissan said they want the former chairman "to speak the truth." According to the individual, no detailed explanation about the case has been made by the automaker, and employees feel confused as they see press reports. "People say he used the company for his own benefit, but what is the truth?"

(Japanese original by Kenji Tatsumi, Kazuhiro Toyama and Kim Suyeong, City News Department)

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