In an unusual move in Japan, former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn was released on bail Wednesday after 108 days in jail, according to a report in Automotive News.
Ghosn, who is known as the father of the Nissan Leaf for his work championing the car’s production, was arrested in November on charges of allegedly misusing company funds and underreporting his compensation for 10 years.
In Japan, criminal suspects are routinely held without bail, and prosecutors can file new charges against jailed suspects to extend their detention, as they had with Ghosn.
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Ghosn maintains his innocence, calling his arrest and imprisonment a “terrible ordeal.”
“I am innocent and totally committed to vigorously defending myself in a fair trial against these meritless and unsubstantiated accusations,” he said in a statement following his release.
He faces 10 years in prison if convicted.
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Ghosn changed lawyers in February and hired Junichiro Hironaka, a Japanese defense attorney who became known as “the Razor” for his success in winning bail and acquittals in high-profile cases. Japan has a conviction rate of more than 99 percent in criminal cases.
Hironaka referred to the Japanese system of holding suspects without bail, and allowing prosecutors extensive interviews without a defense attorney present as “hostage justice,” designed to elicit confessions. He filed a brief with the United Nations human rights office in Geneva claiming that Ghosn’s rights were violated while he was in custody.
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Ghosn, then CEO of Renault, joined Nissan in 1999 when the company was facing bankruptcy, and became its CEO as well in 2001. He is largely responsible for building one of the largest automaking alliances in history between the two companies. Mitsubishi also joined the alliance in 2016.
He was arrested on Nov. 19, after arriving in Japan for a Nissan board meeting. He has since been ousted as chairman of Nissan and Mitsubishi as a result of the allegations, and resigned as CEO of Renault.
Bail was set at $8.9 million (1 billion yen), which Ghosn reportedly paid in cash, and it came with severe conditions, including live video cameras in Ghosn’s home, and severe limits on travel, including a ban on leaving Japan. Hironaka said he doesn’t expect Ghosn’s case to come to trial for several more months—perhaps after the summer.