Carlos Ghosn makes his first court appearance since arrest


Handcuffed and roped up, Carlos Ghosn will address court in person on Tuesday

Ghosn, who was once such a celebrated star in Japan that a comic book was written about him, showed up in the courtroom in handcuffs with a rope tied around his waist.

The legal team, which will have 20 minutes to address the court, plans to insist there's no evidence for the allegations against him and will probably ask for bail after the hearing, said Mr Otsuru. "I am wrongfully accused".

The detention period for the third allegation against Ghosn expires on January 11, by which time prosecutors must decide whether to charge him, re-arrest him on new allegations or allow him to apply for bail.

After an emergency board meeting, French auto giant Renault says Thierry Bollore will take over with Ghosn "temporarily incapacitated" following his arrest. He said four major companies tried to recruit him while he was Nissan CEO. The judge, Yuichi Tada, said it was because he was considered a flight risk, and the possibility of concealing evidence. Two guards who led him in uncuffed him and sat with him on a bench.

Ghosn said he had "acted honorably, legally and with the knowledge and approval of the appropriate executives inside the company with the sole objective of supporting and strengthening Nissan", according to a statement released to some media including The Associated Press before the hearing and confirmed by his legal team.

But he also painted the picture of a loyal company man who wouldn't dream of harming a corporation for which he felt "a genuine love and appreciation". They requested anonymity because of the matters' confidentiality.

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Ghosn is also accused of making $14.7m in payments to Saudi businessman Khaled Al-Juffali using Nissan funds in exchange for arranging a letter of credit to help with his investment losses.

The Khaled Juffali Company also issued a statement on Tuesday saying it had received the payments for legitimate business purposes.

Ghosn has not been formally charged over the latter two allegations and is preparing to defend himself "vigorously" in court, according to his son Anthony in an interview with French weekly Journal du Dimanche.

Even if prosecutors do not level new allegations, the former Nissan chief could remain in jail in pre-trial detention.

Draft proposals for post-retirement compensation were reviewed by internal and external lawyers, showing he had no intent to break the law, according to the statement.

He told the court that contrary to accusations made by prosecutors, he got no compensation from Nissan that wasn't disclosed.

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His lengthy stay in a tiny, freezing cell at the Tokyo detention centre has drawn worldwide criticism of Japan's "hostage justice", which allows prosecutors to re-arrest suspects several times over different allegations and to question them for up to eight hours a day without a lawyer present. He's a Brazilian-born Frenchman of Lebanese ancestry.

The case has rattled Nissan's alliance with French automaker Renault, where Ghosn still remains chairman and chief executive.

Ghosn will be able to make his first public statement at a brief hearing on Tuesday, after his lawyers used an obscure article of Japan's constitution to demand an explanation for his detention.

A total of 1,122 people, including some Nissan shareholders and foreign media, lined up for a draw for the 14 available courtroom seats assigned to members of the public. No cameras or audio recordings are allowed to document Japanese court sessions.

He has been held at the Tokyo Detention Center, a spartan facility where small rooms have a toilet in the corner and no heater - a far cry from the jet-setting lifestyle Ghosn was accustomed to.

Authorities also arrested a fellow Nissan executive and aide to Ghosn, Greg Kelly, charging him with collaborating with Ghosn to underreport his income. Kelly, an American, was released on bail on December 25.

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On Dec. 21, Tokyo prosecutors raised the stakes by re-arresting Ghosn on suspicion of "aggravated breach of trust" by allegedly transferring obligations on his personal investment losses to Nissan, thereby inflicting financial damage to the automaker. No trial dates have been set for Ghosn or Kelly.

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