Former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn is likely to appear in a Japanese court to hear the reasons for his detention, possibly within days, after his lawyers deployed a little-used article of the Constitution.
A public hearing could take place within five days, according to public broadcaster NHK, after the executive’s attorneys lodged a request with the Tokyo District Court that it cannot legally refuse.
It is the latest in a series of unexpected twists in a case that has gripped Japan and the business world since the once-revered auto tycoon was arrested on his private jet at a Tokyo airport on November 19.
“Mr Ghosn today submitted a request for the disclosure of the reasons for his detention. No date has been set,” the court said.
NHK said Ghosn wants to attend the hearing himself if there is one.
Article 34 of Japan’s Constitution stipulates that “no person shall be arrested or detained without being at once informed of the charges against him or without the immediate privilege of counsel.”
“Nor shall he be detained without adequate cause; and upon demand of any person such cause must be immediately shown in open court in his presence and the presence of his counsel,” it says.
Ghosn was spending the beginning of 2019 in detention after the court last week extended his detention through to January 11 on allegations of aggravated breach of trust.
He was re-arrested over these allegations on December 21, dashing his hopes of being home for Christmas.
Since his shock arrest on November 19, the case has shone a light on the Japanese legal system, which has come in for some criticism internationally.
Authorities are pursuing three separate lines of enquiry against the 64-year-old Franco-Lebanese-Brazilian executive, involving alleged financial wrongdoing during his tenure as Nissan chief.
They suspect he conspired with his right-hand man, US executive Greg Kelly, to hide away around half of his income (some five billion yen or $44 million) over five fiscal years from 2010.
They also allege he under-reported his salary to the tune of four billion yen over the next three fiscal years — apparently to avoid criticism that his pay was too high.
They are also investigating a complex third claim that alleges Ghosn sought to shift a personal investment loss onto Nissan’s books.
Prosecutors have pressed formal charges over the first allegation but not yet over the other accusations.