'Tired' Carlos Ghosn recovers, as lawyers ready defence

In keeping with conditions for his bail, Carlos Ghosn has promised to live at a residence with surveillance cameras, to stay in Japan, and to use only designated computers with no internet access.
In keeping with conditions for his bail, Carlos Ghosn has promised to live at a residence with surveillance cameras, to stay in Japan, and to use only designated computers with no internet access.PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (AFP) - Former Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn's top lawyer vowed on Thursday (March 7) to mount a thorough defence to restore his client's reputation, as the businessman spent his first day out of a Tokyo detention centre recovering.

"Of course he is tired," Junichiro Hironaka told reporters camped outside his office.

"He was taken into custody unexpectedly at the airport, put in that place for more than 100 days. Wouldn't he be tired after all that?" Hironaka kept tight-lipped on details about Ghosn, who was freed on Wednesday afternoon after his shock arrest on Nov 19 when Japanese prosecutors stormed into his corporate jet.

He was later slapped with multiple charges of financial misconduct.

In keeping with conditions for his bail worth roughly US$9 million (S$12.2 million), Ghosn has promised to live at a residence with surveillance cameras, to stay in Japan, and to use only designated computers with no internet access.

Ghosn's bail should help the lawyers prepare better for his trial, Hironaka said.

Japan's judicial tradition allows authorities to keep suspects in custody for a long time to encourage confessions.

 
 
 
 

The high-profile case has shone a light on the practice often referred to as "hostage justice", sparking criticism from abroad.

"I think it's good that the court granted bail even with various conditions attached, as I've been thinking it's unfair to detain the accused over a long period of time before trial in so-called 'hostage justice'," Hironaka said.

"I hope 'hostage justice' will be a thing of the past. From now on, I hope we'll be able to conduct more elaborate, more thorough preparations" for the trial, he said.

Hironaka said he did not know why Ghosn decided to leave the detention centre dressed a bit like a construction worker, donning a blue cap and a work jacket with yellow reflective stripes.

"I was surprised when I saw him on TV," said Hironaka, who said he had not met Ghosn in person since the release.

The outfit can be seen as "humorous" but Ghosn could have left in more traditional garb, Hironaka added.

He said he understood it was a plan concocted by the tycoon and bail lawyers on the ground.

"If you want to be serious, you might say he should act openly if he is claiming his innocence. That would be a normal, serious view," he said.

The lawyer added that Ghosn's defence team was considering an opportunity for him to speak with the press in the near future although this was unlikely to happen on Thursday given his exhaustion.

But the event must be designed in such a way that it would not affect the trial and not allow prosecutors to argue that Ghosn was using the media to send hidden messages to his associates to conceal evidence.

"We are criminal-trial lawyers. We only think about how we can win a not-guilty verdict," he said.