Head of ousted Nissan chairman Ghosn’s legal team quits

Mae Love
February 13, 2019

Nissan said that costs before and since the arrest of Mr Ghosn, its former chairman, had amounted to 9.2 million yen (£65 million) in the year so far.

Ohtsuru's office and a statement submitted to the court confirmed that Ohtsuru had quit on Wednesday.

Ghosn was arrested on November 19.

"Hironaka is the type of lawyer who will thoroughly fight the prosecutors' charge, and he's been able to win acquittals in many big cases", said Nobuo Gohara, a lawyer and former prosecutor in Japan who isn't connected to the case.

Ghosn said Wednesday he hired Junichiro Hironaka to be his new lawyer and help him with the "trial phase" of his case.

Ghosn released a short statement thanking Otsuru for his team's "tireless and diligent work" and called him a "very capable and intelligent man and lawyer".

The sudden change in attorneys comes ahead of the expected start of informal meetings with prosecutors and judges to discuss pretrial preparations, an indication that there will be no new charges against Ghosn.

In an interview with AFP and France's Les Echos last month, he slammed his ongoing detention, saying that the refusal to free him "would not be normal in any other democracy".

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Ghosn also stands accused of a complex scheme to try to pass off personal foreign exchange losses to Nissan and using company funds to reimburse a Saudi contact who stumped up collateral for him.

"As we begin the trial phase, I have chose to engage Hironaka-sensei as my legal counsel", Ghosn said in a statement.

"I believe he (Ghosn) remains consistent about fighting (against the charges)", Hironaka said.

The time behind bars has taken its toll on Ghosn.

Despite having taken on some of Japan's high-publicity cases, Otsuru is known for maintaining a low media profile and spoke publicly only once about the Ghosn case at a press conference.

A former prosecutor, the bespectacled 63-year-old with floppy greying hair earned the soubriquet "the breaker" as he was so good at extracting confessions from suspects.

Upon making his first appearance since his arrest in January, Ghosn has denied any wrongdoing, though results which emerged from a Nissan-Mitsubishi joint investigation found that the former joint chairman received 7.82 million euros in improper payments.

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