Nissan ex-chair Carlos Ghosn says he is innocent, ready for defense

Japan court grants bail to former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn after three months in jail

Former Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn posted bail of 1 billion yen ($9 million) in cash on Wednesday, paving the way for his release from a Tokyo detention centre after more than three months in custody.

The Tokyo District Court set bail at one billion yen - just under nine million US dollars - after a request last week by Ghosn's newly appointed legal team.

"I am also grateful to the NGOs and human rights activists in Japan and around the world who fight for the cause of presumption of innocence and a fair trial".

The acceptance of Ghosn's request for bail, his third, came Tuesday, a day after one of his lawyers, Junichiro Hironaka, said he was confident the auto executive would gain his release.

Some legal experts, including Mr Hironaka, have criticised the system as "hostage justice", saying the long detentions encourage false confessions.

The Frenchman, who was born in Brazil and is of Lebanese descent, is thought to have been driven straight to his residence in the Japanese capital where he must live under strict bail conditions until his trial begins, possibly not for several months. Hironaka said his team clarified specific measures that would be taken to significantly curb the risk of Ghosn tampering with or destroying evidence while out on bail.

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Nissan, which he helped save from the brink of bankruptcy after he was installed as chief operating officer by Renault in 1999, fired him from his role as chairman nearly immediately after his arrest, and says it found "substantial evidence" that he repeatedly misused company funds.

The release would allow Ghosn - the architect of Nissan's automaking partnership with Renault and Mitsubishi - to meet his new legal team frequently and build a defence ahead of trial. If convicted on all charges, he faces a maximum sentence of up to 15 years in jail, prosecutors have said.

That means prosecutors could effectively prevent Mr. Ghosn from leaving detention despite Tuesday's bail decision if they level new allegations against him, restarting the 22-day detention clock.

There is also no plea-bargaining mechanism that would allow Ghosn to agree to lesser charges for a lighter sentence. His bail of one-billion yen ($8.9-million) is among the highest ever in Japan.

Jean-Yves Le Borgne said in an interview on Wednesday that Ghosn, the former head of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Motors alliance, fell into "a kind of trap".

Ghosn, who turns 65 on Saturday, faces three charges of financial misconduct over allegations he under-reported his compensation and tried to shift losses to Nissan's books.

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"Nissan does not have any role in decisions made by courts or prosecutors, and is therefore not in a position to offer a comment", Nicholas Maxfield, a spokesman for the carmaker, said in an emailed statement.

Seemingly frustrated by the lack of progress, Ghosn shook up his legal team, replacing his defense lawyer - who was a former prosecutor - with a hotshot lawyer known as the "Razor" for his mental sharpness.

Ghosn asked, speaking to AFP and the Les Echos daily in January from his detention centre.

Nissan, which makes the March subcompact, Leaf electric vehicle and Infiniti luxury models, has declined comment on the criminal case, but says its investigation has found misconduct by Ghosn.

"The company's focus is firmly on addressing weaknesses in governance that failed to prevent this misconduct", it added in a statement.

He's prohibited from contacting people involved with the case.

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