Ousted Nissan Chairman Released on Bail from a Tokyo Jail

The former Nissan chairman, Carlos Ghosn was released from jail after posting a hefty bail that amounted to $ 8.9, million. Ghosn was arrested on November 19 last year and charged with failure to report his exact salary, which aggravated a breach of trust. He vehemently denied committing the crimes leveled against him.

The ousted Nissan chairman played a massive role in rescuing the corporation from bankruptcy as well as leading it to the Renault-Nissan Alliance. In a rather ironic turn of events, the company that he once worked hard to save a few decades ago was responsible for his legal woes, after accusing him of some financial transgressions. Upon his release, Ghosn maintained his innocence and said that he would do whatever it takes to defend himself in a fair trial.

The conviction rate by Japanese prosecutors stands at a whopping 99%. While the Tokyo District Court hardly grants bail, this has been marked as a rare occurrence given that Ghosn’s case is high profile. His release was, however, not without strict demands by the court. In fact, legal experts said that his release was unexpected, especially at such an early time before the pretrial proceedings. It is estimated that only 30% of criminal defendants were able to convince a court to grant them bail before the first trial took place.

Yasuyuki Takai and Yoji Ochiayai, who are both former Japanese prosecutors, respectively described the early bail approval as “exceptional” and “astonishing”.  Ghosn defense team, which was newly appointed last month has been instrumental in achieving such a milestone. The defense team, however, stressed that it had to propose very stringent conditions to convince the court to grant their client bail. Previously, it had made two bail applications which were consequently denied by the court.

Junichiro Hironaka, who is serving as Ghosn’s new attorney holds a good record of winning acquittals in high profile cases. He said among the conditions of his client’s bail would include a camera being positioned at the entrance of the apartment, and designated by the court to serve as  Ghosn’s hold up to monitor his movement. Furthermore, Ghosn’s mobile phones and computers will be blocked from accessing the internet, in order to limit him. The footage that will be captured by the surveillance camera will be submitted frequently to the court so that they can ensure that he is adhering to the strict set bail conditions.

In addition, Ghosn will not be allowed to contact anyone who is involved with the case. If he has to, he will have to be granted permission from the court. With the court authorisation, he may attend board meetings at Nissan, Renault, and Mitsubishi motors. Ghosn still maintains his role as director in all the three companies.

His lawyers were tasked with holding all his passports by the court. Currently, he holds a Lebanese, Brazilian and French passports as he has roots in all the three countries.

Takai said that he had never heard of bail conditions that restricted the accused from using a computer. He further said that the proposed bail conditions must have satisfied the court that Ghosn wouldn’t interfere with the evidence.

His long detention has triggered criticism directed towards Japans judicial system.  In an uproar, some of the international media went as far as accusing Japan of what they termed as hostage justice. This was as a result of the low rate of granting defendants bail without having them to make a confession first. This week, Ghosn’s Lawyers saw it fit to file a dossier with United Nations Human Rights Council Working Group, in a bid to have his detention treated as a major violation of his rights.

During an interview with the Asian Nikkei  Review that took place in January this year, Ghosn said that his arrest was as a result of a ploy and treason set in motion by Nissan executives who wanted to undermine his plans of merging Renault and the Japanese auto giant.

Ghosn will now concentrate on preparing for the oncoming pretrial proceedings. Ochiai said that his bail allows for the preparations to be done much faster since his defense team has to inspect all available records thoroughly to make its case.