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Ex-Nissan boss Ghosn released from Tokyo prison after posting bail

Kazuhiro Nogi / AFP | Former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn and his wife Carole leave the office of his lawyer in Tokyo on April 3, 2019.

Former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn walked out of a Japanese detention center Thursday evening, his head held high, after paying 500 million yen ($4.5 million) in bail and winning a court rejection of an appeal from prosecutors.

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Ghosn walked solemnly out of the Tokyo Detention House with one of his lawyers by his side. They got into a dark van without speaking and drove off, watched by dozens of journalists who had been waiting hours for his release.

Prosecutors had fought to keep him in custody, contending he could tamper with evidence or influence witnesses. But the Tokyo District Court decided in the evening he should be released.

In a new twist, the court also decided to restrict Ghosn's contact with his wife, Carole Ghosn, targeting her as someone related to the latest allegations, according to his legal team.

Ghosn was arrested in November, released on bail in early March, but re-arrested and detained again April 4 on new allegations.

He has been charged with under-reporting his post-retirement compensation and breach of trust in diverting Nissan money and allegedly having it shoulder his personal investment losses.

Ghosn, 65, a Brazilian-born Frenchman of Lebanese ancestry, says he is innocent. He contends the compensation allegedly underreported was never decided on or paid and the payments considered to be a breach of trust were legitimate.

The latest bail comes on top of the 1 billion yen ($9 million) Ghosn posted for his earlier release.

For that release, his defense team offered special conditions such installing a surveillance camera at the entrance to a specified residence for the former star executive and promising to use a cellphone and the internet only under specified conditions. The latest release requires similar restrictions, including not leaving the country, according to the court.

Ghosn's case has reignited criticism, both internally and internationally, against lengthy detentions without a trial or conviction in Japan, which critics call "hostage justice."

Ghosn led Nissan Motor Co. for two decades and was credited with steering the success of the global alliance with Renault SA of France and smaller Japanese automaker Mitsubishi Motors Corp.

Nissan lowered its profit forecasts for the fiscal year through March for the second time Wednesday, acknowledging the downward revision reflected the fallout from the Ghosn scandal, as well as slowing markets and rising costs in some regions.

Ghosn's departure has raised questions about a potential leadership vacuum at Nissan, which he dominated until his arrest, and about the future of its alliance with Renault and Mitsubishi.

Renault owns 43 percent of Nissan, while Nissan owns 15 percent of Renault.

Nissan has promised to strengthen its corporate governance, but its image has suffered and sales have fallen, especially in France and Japan where Ghosn is well known.

Nissan, based in Yokohama, has declined comment on the criminal case against Ghosn. It has said an internal investigation found misconduct, and has ousted Ghosn from the board.

In a video statement released April 9, Ghosn said a few Nissan executives plotted against him in "a conspiracy."

A date for Ghosn's trial has not been set. In Japan, trial preparations tend to take months. Both sides have said that the case is complex. The allegations against him involve payments to a Saudi dealership, as well as funds paid to an Oman business that purportedly were diverted to entities run by Ghosn.

(FRANCE 24 with AP)

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