TOKYO -- Almost a year after his arrest and with months to go before his trial, indicted former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn plans to fight the charges to the finish, his lawyer said.
The fallen auto titan will not agree to a lesser crime in a bid for leniency, and he definitely is not discussing with his legal team any eventuality of time behind bars, Japanese attorney Junichiro Hironaka, one of Ghosn's lawyers, said of his client at a news conference on Monday.
Japan has no established custom of plea bargaining that would allow Ghosn to concede some charges in order to mitigate prison time, Hironaka said. And besides, Hironaka added, Ghosn's legal team fully expects to exonerate him because, they say, Ghosn is innocent of any wrongdoing.
Hironaka painted the picture of a Ghosn laser-focused on his legal defense and making the best of the harsh bail conditions that keep him confined to Japan and unable to meet his wife.
Ghosn makes regular trips to Hironaka's office, the only place he is allowed computer access under the bail restrictions. And in his free time, he finds some solace through other activities, such as recent a trip to Kyoto, Japan's ancient capital, with his daughter, his attorney said.
Yet always looming in the background is the threat of up to 15 years in prison if found guilty on all counts. Ghosn, who denies all the charges, does not dwell much on that, Hironaka said.
"Whether Mr. Ghosn has considered the possibility of spending a significant amount of time in jail, no, that is not something we have talked to him about," Hironaka said. "His current state is that he is doing his best, despite the very severe, difficult situation he is place under."
Ghosn's attorney reiterated the defense team's attack on the investigation that resulted in Ghosn's stunning Nov. 19 arrest last year. Central to the strategy is the argument that prosecutors illegally conspired with Nissan executives and government officials to frame Ghosn and remove him from power in order to prevent a full merger of Nissan with French alliance partner Renault.
In the process, Ghosn's lawyers say, prosecutors have also violated Ghosn's rights by engaging in such activities as illegal evidence collection and denying his right to a speedy trial.
Deputy Prosecutor Takahiro Saito has denied inappropriate handling of evidence. "I don't have any comments about what the defense attorneys said about evidence disclosure," Saito said last week. "We are dealing with pretrial procedures for a public trial in an appropriate manner."
A year after Ghosn's arrest, the trial still does not have an official start date. Hironaka said both sides are tentatively targeting sometime next April but that nothing has been decided.
Ghosn faces four indictments in Japan. The first two are charges of failing to disclose more than $80 million in deferred compensation. The two other counts are breach of trust charges that accuse Ghosn of diverting company money for personal matters or personal gain.
Naoto Okamura contributed to this report