Carlos Ghosn’s legal team quits following Tokyo escape

Most of Carlos Ghosn’s legal team in Japan have quit his case following the fugitive ex-Nissan boss’s stunning escape from Tokyo.

Junichiro Hironaka, the leader of Ghosn’s legal team in Japan, said Thursday that everyone handling the case at his office had resigned but didn’t elaborate further.

Takashi Takano, another attorney on Ghosn’s three-person squad, also quit Thursday, an official at his office said. It’s uncertain whether Ghosn’s third lawyer, Hiroshi Kawatsu, is still representing him.

The lawyers were helping defend Ghosn against the financial-crime charges that the former auto executive fled last month when he was allegedly smuggled out of Japan in an audio gear box.

Ghosn has denied the charges that he underreported his future pay and diverted money from Nissan for personal gain. He has said he left Japan to flee “injustice and persecution” and that he could stay in Lebanon — where he was reunited with his wife, Carole — for the rest of his life. Japanese justice minister Masako Mori has rejected his criticisms.

Lawyers for Ghosn were shocked by his surprise escape late last month. After his wealthy client popped up in Beirut, Hironaka — who is known for winning significant cases in a country where more than 99 percent of criminal cases lead to convictions — reportedly said Ghosn’s flight was “totally unexpected.”

Junichiro Hironaka
Junichiro HironakaReuters

“I want to ask him, ‘How could you do this to us?’” Hironaka told reporters on New Year’s Eve, according to the New York Times.

In a Jan. 4 blog post, Takano said he initially felt “a feeling of intense anger” after learning Ghosn had skipped bail and fled to Lebanon. But he said he understood why Ghosn left given how he had been treated by the Japanese justice system.

“It’s not hard to imagine that if someone with the same financial resources, connections and behavioral powers as him had the same experience, he would try the same thing,” Takano wrote in the post, according to a translation.

With Post wires

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