Carlos Ghosn, out on bail, will be under strict monitoring

Reuters Tokyo, Japan Mar 08, 2019, 05.48 PM(IST)

File photo of Carlos Ghosn. Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

As part of the bail deal arranged by his new legal team hired last month, Ghosn is banned from accessing the internet and email, and only allowed to use a computer not linked to the web at the office of one of his lawyers.

 

 

No internet, no email and surveillance cameras to monitor his comings and goings.

After paying $9 million in bail, former Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn is out of a Japanese jail cell where he spent 108 days, but he must live under a host of restrictions while he awaits trial, which could be a year away.

As part of the bail deal arranged by his new legal team hired last month, Ghosn is banned from accessing the internet and email, and only allowed to use a computer not linked to the web at the office of one of his lawyers.

Ghosn, who has French, Brazilian and Lebanese citizenship, was indicted for under-reporting his salary and breach of trust. He must pay for the installation of surveillance cameras in the entrance of his Tokyo residence.

Footage will be viewed by members of the defence legal team and records sent to the Tokyo District Court, said Ghosn's renowned defence lawyer Junichiro Hironaka.

"The cameras will be placed where they can monitor those coming in and out. It's not for recording Ghosn's daily life," said Hironaka, who is nicknamed "the Razor" for many high-profile cases he's won in a country where the conviction rate is 99.9 per cent.

He said he and his colleagues would take turns to monitor.

"One person can't manage, so we'll divide it between the offices of the three defence attorneys," he said.

Similarly, records of Ghosn's phone calls will be kept by his legal team and submitted to the court, Hironaka said. The phone will keep records even if Ghosn attempts to delete them, he said.

It wasn't immediately clear how the internet ban would be enforced, though.

If Ghosn violates any of these conditions, the courts could send him back to jail and make him forfeit his $9 million bail, making any attempt to skirt the rules risky.

The Tokyo District Court declined to comment on how the conditions would be monitored.

TWICE DENIED

Ghosn is also prohibited from leaving Japan, which was widely expected, but must remain in Tokyo. He needs the court's permission if he wants to leave his house for more than two nights.

Ghosn had been denied bail twice under his previous legal team, which had proposed he wear a GPS ankle monitor, on grounds that he would be a flight risk or that he would destroy evidence. His new lawyers managed to convince the court otherwise, proposing the restrictions to address concerns.

But Shin Kukimoto, deputy public prosecutor at the Tokyo prosecutors office, said he thought the bail conditions were not sufficient to prevent tampering with evidence.

Despite that concern, experts said such restrictions were unusual and even harsh in Japan, which has faced international criticism for the prolonged detention of suspects, who are often held until a trial starts, with defence lawyers banned from interrogations.

"We have never seen conditions like this placed on bail. When I saw them I thought it was harsh," said Shingi Bando an official at the Japan Bail Support Association, which offers support to people who struggle to come up with bail.

SURGICAL MASK

Ghosn was released on Wednesday from the Tokyo Detention Center, where he had been held since his Nov. 19 arrest.

He was whisked past a horde of journalists dressed in what lead defence lawyer Takashi Takano later said was a disguise - a blue cap, glasses, surgical mask and workman's outfit - and was taken away in a mini-van with a ladder on top.

"We managed to have Mr. Ghosn’s bail granted, but it comes with many strict requirements," Takano wrote on his blog.

He said he the disguise was an attempt to ensure his client could be released without being noticed and taken to a secret location so he could "get back into a normal social life" with his family, who had come to Japan.

The ruse partly worked. While live TV coverage captured images of Ghosn emerging from jail surrounded by a group of guards, many journalists who were kept behind a fence outside didn't recognize him.

Hironaka said Ghosn agreed to go along with the disguise.

"It seemed as if Ghosn knew that being smart and confident in high brand suits is not always the best thing to do," he said.

Ghosn, who was spotted on Friday walking around Shinjuku Gyoen, a downtown Tokyo park, with his wife, is also banned from communicating with other parties involved in the case, including Nissan management.

Nissan Motor Co. has sacked Ghosn as board chairman, but he is still a board member because changes to the board need to be approved by shareholders, who will meet in April.

Should he want to attend a Nissan board meeting, Ghosn needs the court's permission.