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Lawyer calls Tokyo prosecutors' latest arrest of Carlos Ghosn 'hostage justice'

Former Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn leaves a law firm in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward on April 3, 2019. (Mainichi/Naoki Watanabe)

TOKYO -- Junichiro Hironaka, a lawyer representing Carlos Ghosn, blasted prosecutors over the fresh arrest of the former Nissan Motor Co. chairman on April 4, which came less than a month since his client was released on bail.

"It is utterly inappropriate," Hironaka fumed before a pool of reporters assembled in front of his legal firm in Tokyo shortly before 9 a.m. "I wonder if prosecutors are trying to turn the tide in favor of themselves by hurting Ghosn through 'hostage justice.'"

The Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office arrested Ghosn, 65, on suspicion of aggravated breach of trust under the Companies Act for misusing part of funds that Nissan provided to a dealership in Oman. The latest warrant was the fourth against Ghosn, who had been released on bail on March 6. It is extremely rare for prosecutors to arrest a defendant on bail.

On April 3, the day before the latest arrest, Ghosn opened his official Twitter account and tweeted in both English and Japanese: "I'm getting ready to tell the truth about what's happening. Press conference on Thursday, April 11." His account was not updated on April 4, apparently due to the early morning arrest.

Hironaka complained, "I don't see the reason (behind the arrest). They could have indicted him again without arrest if they believe they can build a case by gathering evidence. I wonder why they are detaining him." The lawyer said he would hold a press conference later on April 4.

Earlier that day, about 100 reporters flocked to an apartment in Tokyo where Ghosn was designated to live under his bail conditions. Shortly before 7 a.m., a car believed to have been carrying Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office personnel arrived at the entrance to the condominium, and a sheet was brought to cover the area from reporters. The vehicle left before long, with Ghosn apparently inside, but reporters could not see the inside as curtains were drawn between the front and the back seats. It is thought that Ghosn entered a building housing the prosecutors' office in the capital's Kasumigaseki bureaucratic center, and then headed to the Tokyo Detention House by car before 10 a.m.

With regard to earlier reports about the prosecutors' move to arrest him, Ghosn was quoted as telling Hironaka, "Bad news."

"From my perspective, the prosecutors have played their last card. All I can do is perform my job properly as planned," Hironaka told reporters.

(Japanese original by Akira Hattori, Akira Okubo and Tomohiro Katahira, City News Department)

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