Ousted Nissan boss Ghosn set to leave prison after court rejects prosecutors’ appeal

TOKYO (Reuters) – A Japanese court on Tuesday rejected the latest attempt by prosecutors to keep former Nissan Motor Chairman Carlos Ghosn in prison, ruling that the once-feted executive could be released on $8.9 million bail after more than 100 days in detention.

The Tokyo District Court, which had earlier granted Ghosn bail, said late on Tuesday it had rejected an appeal by prosecutors who had sought to keep him in prison pending his trial for financial misconduct.

The decision marks a victory for Ghosn’s legal team on his third bail request. He is likely to leave the detention center in Tokyo, where has spent the last three months, as early as Wednesday. The court accepted defense lawyers’ assurances that Ghosn would submit to extensive surveillance.

The release would allow Ghosn – the architect of Nissan’s automaking partnership with France’s Renault and one of the global auto industry’s most celebrated executives – to meet his lawyers frequently and build a defense ahead of his trial. He faces charges of aggravated breach of trust and under-reporting his compensation to the tune of $82 million at Nissan for nearly a decade.

If convicted on all the charges, he faces up to a decade in jail. The ex-chairman of Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi Motors has denied wrongdoing.

Nissan has declined to comment on the bail decision, which comes a day after the head of Ghosn’s new legal team said he was optimistic the executive would be released with a promise to submit to surveillance.

The case has cast a harsh light globally on Japan’s criminal justice system, which allows suspects to be detained for long periods and prohibits defense lawyers from being present during interrogations that can last eight hours a day.

Public opinion likely played a role in the court’s decision to grant bail, along with assurances from Ghosn’s lawyers that he was prepared to be under any restraint, said Shin Ushijima, a former prosecutor and lawyer.

“The court was partly influenced by the opinion of the entire world,” Ushijima said. “People in general thought (the detention period) is too long. This will change Japan’s criminal procedures.”

Additional reporting by Linda Sieg and Tim Kelly; Writing by Naomi Tajitsu and David Dolan; Editing by Himani Sarkar and David Evans

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