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Nissan's Ghosn crisis

Ghosn granted bail on third request

Tokyo prosecutors' last-ditch appeal only thing standing in way

Former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn was granted bail by a Tokyo court on March 5.

TOKYO -- The Tokyo District Court has granted former Nissan Motor Chairman Carlos Ghosn's third request for bail, after more than 100 days in detention, giving his new defense team a welcome victory as they prepare for his trial this autumn on charges of financial misconduct.

Ghosn was not released immediately after the court's decision on Tuesday, as the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors' Office filed a swift appeal. A ruling on the appeal could follow quickly, sources said, allowing the embattled businessman to walk free as soon as Tuesday evening.

The court set bail at 1 billion yen ($9 million), while Ghosn has agreed to submit to surveillance by security cameras as one of the conditions for his release. The executive has also been ordered to remain in Japan. Nissan refused to comment.

The Brazilian-born tycoon was once one of the world's most celebrated executives, credited with rescuing Nissan from collapse some 20 years ago and successfully steering its long alliance with Renault of France, where he was also chairman. His arrest on Nov. 19 stunned the business world, as allegations over misuse of funds began to emerge from a secret internal investigation.

Ghosn denies any wrongdoing. In his first interview after he was taken into custody, he told Nikkei that he had "no doubt" his arrest was the result of a "plot and treason" by Nissan executives who were opposed to his plan to merge Nissan and Renault.

His long detention since his arrest on Nov. 19 has put Japan's justice system under global scrutiny. Ghosn's lawyers have submitted evidence to the United Nations' alleging his human rights have been violated during his detention in Japan, his lawyers said this week.

Some Japanese lawyers not connected to the case have also criticized Ghosn's extended detention. Hiroshi Kadono, a lawyer and former Tokyo judge, had said Ghosn should be granted bail so that he can better "prepare courtroom tactics with his lawyers, outside of jail."

The successful bail application follows the appointment of a new legal team in February. The team includes Junichiro Hironaka, known as "the Razor," who has won acquittals in high-profile cases.

Over the coming weeks the defense and prosecution will enter the pretrial phase, during which they each present their evidence to the Tokyo District Court.

The prosecution argues Ghosn breached trust by transferring about 1.85 billion yen in personal losses from foreign exchange contracts to Nissan. The allegation also covers payments of 1.6 billion yen from company funds to a Saudi acquaintance of Ghosn's from 2009 to 2012.

In addition, the auto executive has been charged for understating his income for two periods -- the three years from fiscal 2015 to 2017, and the five years from 2010 to 2014. The underreported income amounts to around 9.1 billion yen over eight years.

Ghosn's former defense lawyer Motonari Otsuru, who previously served as head of an investigative division in the Tokyo prosecutors office, twice tried to get his client released in January.

Greg Kelly, a close Ghosn aide who was arrested on the same day as his boss, was released in December after putting up bail of 70 million yen.

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