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Prosecutors slam bail for ex-Nissan boss Ghosn; lawyer says conditions not violated

Former Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn leaves the Tokyo Detention House in Tokyo's Katsushika Ward shortly before 10:30 p.m. on April 25, 2019. (Mainichi/Masahiro Ogawa)

TOKYO -- Japanese public prosecutors expressed strong opposition to an April 25 Tokyo District Court decision to release former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn on bail for the second time, citing fears that he would destroy evidence. A lawyer for the businessman, meanwhile, expressed relief over his release the same evening.

Ghosn's release shortly before 10:30 p.m. on April 25 came after he was indicted for the fourth time on April 22 over alleged misuse of company funds. On March 6, the last time Ghosn was released on bail, he emerged from detention disguised in working clothes, but this time he appeared in a dark suit and white shirt.

His lawyer Junichiro Hironaka commented, "Prosecutors were strongly opposed (to his release), so I had some worries, but it turned out well."

Sources close to Ghosn's case said it is suspected that while he was in custody, he instructed his wife Carole to make contact with Saudi businessman Khaled al-Juffali, who received monies in a case that led to a charge of aggravated breach of trust against Ghosn. One public prosecutor angrily commented, "We have these concrete facts leading to valid fears he could destroy evidence, so it's strange to grant bail. Practices relating to the precepts of criminal justice have fallen apart."

Deputy prosecutor Shin Kukimoto also made the rare move of releasing a comment. "It was recognized (by the district court) that he was trying to reach out to those involved in the case, and that there were suspicions of destruction of evidence, so it is truly unfortunate that it granted bail," Kukimoto said.

The evening of Ghosn's release, Hironaka told reporters, "Even when you look at public prosecutors' statement of opposition to his release, he never violated any of his bail conditions." Regarding prosecutors' allegations that Ghosn's wife had had contact with a person involved in the case, Hironaka stated, "They're merely saying she met him, not that she worked to destroy evidence."

Ghosn was arrested in November last year on suspicion of violating the Financial Instruments and Exchange Act by underreporting his income. On the 108th day of his detention he posted bail of 1 billion yen and released, but he was rearrested on April 4 on suspicion of aggravated breach of trust.

When he was released in March, the district court had imposed 15 restrictions on him. These included that the entrance to his home be monitored by camera 24 hours a day, that his use of a computer be restricted to when he was at his lawyers' office, and that he submit his mobile phone history and internet connection records to the court every month.

Ghosn's latest release came with the Tokyo District Court imposing harsher conditions, including a ban on contacting his wife.

When Ghosn was rearrested on April 4 on a charge of aggravated breach of trust, public prosecutors seized his wife's mobile phone. A special complaint filed by Ghosn's lawyers over the move was dismissed by the Third Petty Bench of the Supreme Court in a decision dated April 24.

In addition to his wife's phone, public prosecutors have seized video data from the surveillance camera set up at the entrance to Ghosn's home.

(Japanese original by Kazuhiro Toyama, Akira Hattori, and Kazuki Mogami, City News Department)

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