Carlos Ghosn, the disgraced former leader of Nissan who has been languishing in a Japanese jail since November, has begun his fight back with his new lawyer - a man known as 'The Razor' - going on the attack.
Junichiro Hironaka, nicknamed The Razor, because of his cutting inquisitorial style, has told the media that the case against his client over alleged financial misconduct, “should have been dealt with as an internal matter” and should never have become a criminal matter, let alone landed his client in jail.
Hironaka said Japan itself was being made to look absurd and out of step with international norms by keeping Ghosn in jail.
Ghosn has asked to be bailed so that he can leave jail and prepare his defence - against allegations that he under-reported compensation over eight years, to the tune of $US82 million, among other charges - and even offered to wear a GPS ankle bracelet, but his application was denied by Japanese authorities.
The court claimed he needed to stay locked up to avoid evidence tampering.
Hiring Hironaka is seen as a switch to a more aggressive approach by Ghosn, who has sacked his previous, more media-shy lawyer, Motonari Otsuru.
Hironaka, 73, who has a history of winning high-profile criminal cases, said he did not know why Ghosn picked him, but said he probably wanted an experienced criminal lawyer as his case moves towards what will be a keenly watched trial.
"He is innocent of all the charges," Hironaka said.
The former head of the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi alliance, Ghosn was long feted as one of the industry’s best and brightest, but he is now fighting a legal system where, on average, just three of every 100 defendants who pleads not guilty is acquitted.
He’s also likely to be in jail - an unlikely place for a white-collar criminal yet to be found guilty of anything to find himself in other countries - for some time yet, as it could take up to a year for the trial to come to court. The trial itself is tipped to stretch through much of 2020.
Hironaka told a press briefing it was difficult to predict when Ghosn would be released.
"I have been called the Razor, but it is not a nickname I particularly like. I would rather be known as gentle Hironaka," he said.
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