Nissan Motor Co.'s former Chairman Carlos Ghosn moved closer to being released on bail after a Japanese court on Thursday rejected a request by prosecutors to extend his detention.
Ghosn's arrest in Tokyo last month on allegations of financial misconduct rocked the global car industry and put strains on the alliance he presided over between Nissan and Renault.
He remained in jail on Thursday as prosecutors filed an appeal of the Tokyo District Court's decision. If that appeal is also turned down, the top auto executive's lawyer will seek bail, Efe news cited a person familiar with Ghosn's defence as saying.
Ghosn was indicted on December 10 on charges of underreporting his income on Nissan's financial statements over a five-year period that ended on March 2015. Prosecutors cited additional suspicions that he underreported his income for the three years that ended on March 2018.
On Thursday, they sought to hold Ghosn for 10 more days without the possibility of bail on the basis of those additional suspicions, but in a surprise move, the Tokyo court rejected the request.
The court also denied a request from prosecutors to extend the detention of Greg Kelly, a former Nissan Director accused of helping Ghosn under-report his compensation.
A Nissan spokesman declined to comment on the court's decision, saying the pair's detention was a matter for prosecutors.
After his arrest, Ghosn was stripped of his role as chairman at Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors, while Renault appointed interim management but kept Ghosn on the payroll.
"It's quite rare for a court to reject a request to extend detention by the special investigative division of prosecutors that is handling this case," said Yoji Ochiai, a lawyer and former prosecutor.
"I was a prosecutor for a long time and never heard of such a decision," he said, adding that the court may have been swayed by criticism from abroad regarding Ghosn's lengthy detention.
Ghosn maintains his innocence, according to the person familiar with his legal defence. His Japanese lawyer, Motonari Otsuru, couldn't be reached for comment.
The wife of Ghosn's alleged accomplice Greg Kelly expressed concern for her husband's medical condition in a video statement sent to the Wall Street Journal.
Kelly has been diagnosed with a spinal ailment called spinal stenosis, which requires surgery to fix.
"Kelly experiences numbness and shooting pains in his extremities and his symptoms have worsened since his detention," said his wife, adding that the symptoms could become permanent if he doesn't have the surgery within two months.
The Tokyo prosecutors office, however, said that Kelly was receiving proper care in detention.
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