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Tokyo court retracts plan to start Ghosn's trial in Sept.

Former Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn, who has been indicted in Japan for alleged financial misconduct, is released from the Tokyo Detention House on bail for a second time on April 25, 2019, under stricter conditions that include being banned from making contact with his wife without court approval. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The Tokyo District Court has retracted its plan to start the trial for former Nissan Motor Co. Chairman Carlos Ghosn in September, without proposing a new time frame, sources close to the matter said Friday.

The move, which could mean the trial will not start this year, came as Ghosn was indicted for the fourth time earlier in the month over a fresh allegation of financial misconduct. The 65-year-old was released on bail Thursday.

The sources also said the court decided not to separate the trial for Ghosn, his close aide Greg Kelly, 62, and Nissan. All have been indicted on the charge of violating the financial instruments law by underreporting the former chairman's remuneration.

The court's decisions were conveyed to the prosecutors and Ghosn's lawyers during their talks Friday, according to the sources.

Ghosn is expected to step up preparations to defend himself following his release from the Tokyo Detention House for the second time since he was first arrested in November.

He is also facing an unusual bail condition that bars him from getting in touch with his wife without court approval, but there is still a chance for the restriction to be rescinded.

Experts say it means Ghosn, released on bail of 500 million yen ($4.5 million), may be unable to communicate with her until the first trial verdict, unless the court accepts his defense team's request to repeal it before then.

Japan's criminal procedure code stipulates that bail conditions be set if a court agrees to a suspect's release. However, defense lawyers are allowed to request modifications regardless of the timing of the first trial.

There is a high possibility that Ghosn's lawyers will request that the court scrap the ban on contact when they have narrowed down the critical points as part of the preparations of the trial.

Lawyer Junichiro Hironaka has said he "does not believe (the definition of contact) was detailed."

"Restricting communications and contact between my wife and me is cruel and unnecessary," Ghosn said in a statement after his release. "We love each other very much, she answered all of the prosecutors' questions in court, and she has done nothing wrong."

Tokyo prosecutors have told the court that his wife Carole got in touch with individuals related to the allegations. Ghosn's first release on March 6 was conditional on not contacting those individuals, but similar behavior by his wife was not prohibited.

The Ghosn case has drawn international attention to Japan's criminal justice system, which some have called "hostage justice." Critics say the system enables authorities to hold alleged offenders in difficult conditions for long periods of time in hopes of soliciting an admission of guilt.

In the latest, and fourth indictment, Ghosn is facing a charge of aggravated breach of trust in connection with the misuse of Nissan funds paid to an Omani distributor.

Sources close to the case have said it is alleged that part of the money was channeled to the company of Ghosn's wife, where a portion may have gone toward the purchase of a luxury yacht worth 1.6 billion yen mainly for use by the family.

Ghosn also allegedly underreported his remuneration by 9.1 billion yen in Nissan's securities reports presented to Japanese regulators over the eight years through March last year and is charged with aggravated breach of trust in relation to the alleged transfer of private investment losses to Nissan.

Ghosn was removed from the chairmanship posts at Nissan and its partners Renault SA and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. He has also been replaced as CEO of Renault.

Ghosn has continued to claim he is innocent via interviews and a video message recorded prior to his April 4 arrest, blaming Nissan executives for conspiring against him.

While his arrest came as a result of a plea bargain deal struck between two senior Nissan officials and prosecutors, the Tokyo District Court told the lawyers and prosecutors on Friday it will "carefully" judge the credibility of the statements of the officials.

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