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Japanese Court OKs Release of Former Nissan Chairman on Bail

A Japanese court Tuesday approved the release of former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn from prison on $8.9 million bail, but his detention was delayed when prosecutors filed a last-minute appeal to the court’s decision.

Prosecutors filed the appeal just hours before the court’s announcement to release Ghosn pending his trial for corporate misconduct.

Defense attorney Junichiro Hironaka said Ghosn will be detained at the Tokyo Detention Center until at least Wednesday because bail procedures cannot be carried out at night.

Ghosn reiterated in a statement he is “innocent” and said he was “grateful” for family and friends who supported him “throughout this terrible ordeal.” He also praised human rights activists and non-governmental organizations around the world “who fight for the cause of presumption of innocence and fair trial.”

Ghosn’s pending release was granted at the request of Hironaka, who recently joined Ghosn’s defense team. Hironaka is well-known for winning acquittals in Japan, a country with a 99 percent conviction rate. The court denied two previous requests for the former executive’s release.

Hironaka, who describes his client’s case as “hostage justice,” is among the many critics of the Japanese judicial system who argue such lengthy detentions of suspects are unfair. The case has brought Japan’s criminal justice system under close international scrutiny.

The Tokyo District Court approved Ghosn’s release with several restrictions, including where he can live, a ban on foreign travel, and vows not to tamper with evidence.

The former head of the Nissan-Mitsubishi Motors-Renault alliance has been in prison since his November 19 arrest on charges of falsifying financial statements for nearly a decade by under-reporting compensation by $82 million.

Goshn faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Nissan has declined to comment on the case but said it was strengthening its corporate governance standards.

The Japanese auto giant fired Goshn as chairman, but he remains on the board until a decision is made at a shareholders’ meeting.

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