Lawyer for former Nissan chairman Ghosn slams bail limits

TOKYO — The lawyer for Nissan’s former chairman Carlos Ghosn on Saturday criticized a bail condition that prevents his client from seeing his wife, as Ghosn awaits trial on financial misconduct charges.

A judge has forbidden Ghosn from seeing his wife, Carole, including in the presence of lawyers, or talking to her on the phone. Prosecutors say the restriction is needed to prevent evidence tampering.

“This is unfair,” Takashi Takano, the lawyer, said in a phone interview, calling it a human rights violation. “It’s cruel and unusual.”

His earlier appeal of the ban, rejected by district and appeals courts, went to the Supreme Court, which turned it down last month.

The Supreme Court decision cannot be appealed, but Takano vowed to keep filing new petitions, stressing that the Supreme Court has not yet ruled on the constitutionality or the human rights aspects. The next one will be filed within two or three weeks, he said.

Ghosn’s lawyers recently filed a second petition with the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, arguing that the restrictions on seeing his wife amount to a deprivation of fundamental human rights.

Takano acknowledged that the situation looks dismal, as Japan’s Supreme Court is not easily influenced by other governments’ views or by public opinion.

“Even the strongest man in the world can be stressed, psychologically damaged. That’s very natural as a human being,” said Takano, noting that Ghosn was holding up well compared to other clients he has had.

Ghosn has been aggressively taking part in meetings with his defence team, according to Takano.

The case has entered the stage known as “pre-trial sessions,” during which both sides hand in evidence. A trial date has not been set. In Japan, preparations for trials routinely take months.

Ghosn, who led Japanese automaker Nissan Motor Co. for two decades, was arrested in November and charged with falsifying financial documents in reporting retirement compensation, and with breach of trust in diverting Nissan money toward personal investment losses and a company effectively run by him.

Ghosn, 65, a Brazilian-born Frenchman of Lebanese ancestry, has repeatedly said he is innocent, accusing some at Nissan of plotting against him and opposing a plan to merge Nissan with French alliance partner Renault.

Renault is set to vote Tuesday on a possible merger with Fiat Chrysler.

Nissan has dismissed Ghosn from the board and denounced him as unethical, and has promised to strengthen corporate governance.

Takano, who has law degrees from the U.S. and Japan, has earned the nickname “Legend” for winning innocent verdicts in a nation where the conviction rate is higher than 99%.

Despite the odds, Takano expressed confidence that Ghosn would get exonerated, while declining to go into the specifics of his defence strategy.

“We will win,” he said.

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