Ghosn trial may be delayed until next year: Japanese media

Former Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn's trial, which was expected to begin in September, will be delayed, local media said Saturday, hinting that it may not start this year.

Ghosn trial may be delayed until next year: Japanese media
Former Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn leaving a detention centre on Thursday. Photo: Behrouz Mehri / AFP
The 65-year-old tycoon, currently on bail, is preparing for his trial on four charges of financial misconduct ranging from concealing part of his salary from shareholders to syphoning off Nissan funds for his personal use.
The Tokyo District Court had proposed to start his trial in September during its pre-trial meetings with his defence lawyers and prosecutors, news reports said, quoting unnamed sources.
But the court told the lawyers and prosecutors on Friday that it had retracted the plan without proposing a new time frame, Kyodo News said, adding that the move could mean the trial will not start this year.
The court also decided not to separate the trial for Ghosn, his close aide Greg Kelly and Nissan — all indicted on the charge of violating the financial instruments law by underreporting Ghosn's compensation, according to Kyodo.
His lawyers have so far demanded he be tried separately from Nissan and have voiced fears he will not receive a fair trial.
The Sankei Shimbun also said prosecutors gave up filing an appeal to the Supreme Court against his bail, a move to erasing a chance of his return to jail unless he is arrested again on fresh charges. Immediate confirmation of the news reports was not available.
On Thursday, Ghosn exited his Tokyo detention centre after accepting bail of $4.5 million under strict conditions, including restrictions on seeing his wife.
His case has captivated Japan and the business community with its multiple twists and turns, as well as shone a spotlight on the Japanese justice system which critics say is overly harsh.
Ghosn denies all the charges, with a spokesperson for the executive saying on Monday he would “vigorously defend himself against these baseless accusations and fully expects to be vindicated”.
In a statement hours after his release, Ghosn said: “No person should ever be indefinitely held in solitary confinement for the purpose of being forced into making a confession.”
The dramatic case has thrown international attention onto the Japanese justice system, derided by critics as “hostage justice” as it allows prolonged detention and relies heavily on suspects' confessions.

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Two jailed in first Paris attacks trial

A French court on Wednesday jailed two men in the first trial stemming from the 2015 Islamic State attacks in Paris in which jihadists massacred 130 people.

Two jailed in first Paris attacks trial
Armed French police stands guard as a van carrying Jawad Bendaoud arrives at court. Photo: AFP
Mohamed Soumah, a convicted petty criminal, was handed a five-year jail term for helping two IS jihadists find a hideout after the November 13, 2015 attacks, the worst on French soil since World War II.
And Youssef Ait Boulahcen, the cousin of the attacks' ringleader Abdelhamid Abaaoud, was given a four-year sentence with one year suspended for “failing to report a terrorist crime”.
The court has been packed for the trial, which started days before a separate case in Belgium involving Salah Abdeslam, believed to be the only surviving attacker from the Paris atrocities.
The focus of the trial had been 31-year-old Jawad Bendaoud (see photo below), a drug dealer who became a media sensation in France after renting his flat to the two jihadists but insisting nothing about them had seemed suspicious.
Jawad Bendaou. AFP PHOTO / BFMTV  
Bendaoud became a national laughing stock after giving an infamous TV interview in which he insisted “I didn't know they were terrorists”, despite the country having been on lockdown on the hunt for fugitive jihadists at the time.
He was cleared on Wednesday.
Bendaoud argued he had previously rented his grubby flat in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis to Eastern European gangsters without asking any questions, and that all he knew about the men who arrived after the attacks was that they wanted somewhere with water where they could pray.
Abaaoud and his accomplice Chakib Akrouh were killed in a massive police raid at the apartment on November 18, five days after the attacks.
They were believed to have been planning a fresh suicide attack on the French capital's La Defense business district when they were killed.
Prosecutors had sought a four-year jail term for Bendaoud and initially tried to argue he knew he was harbouring terrorists, but judge Isabelle Prevost-Desprez said there was no evidence against him.
“It cannot be proven that Jawad Bendaoud provided accommodation to the terrorists… in order to shelter them from being found,” Prevost-Desprez told the court.
Bendaoud, who has played the clown before a packed courtroom since February 24, raised his arms in triumph and clapped his police guards on the shoulder as Prevost-Desprez handed down the verdict.
One of the plaintiff's lawyers walks down the stairs towards journalists. Photo: AFP
One-man show
While it is his co-defendants that are going to jail, Bendaoud, who has been held in isolation for much of the past two years, dominated the trial with dramatic and comic outbursts.
At one point he complained that no one would want to join his cocaine-dealing ventures now because of the unwanted publicity, and at another he regaled the courtroom with a tale about bonding with a rat in prison.
Relatives of the victims said during the trial that his antics had deepened their anguish.
“I was outraged to hear laughter during these debates,” said Patrick, who like other victims' relatives was only identified by their first names during the trial at their request.
“I'm not here to see a show,” said the man, whose daughter Nathalie was killed at the Bataclan concert-goers where the jihadists gunned down and blew up 90 people enjoying a show by California rockers Eagles of Death Metal.
Despite the one-liners, both Bendaoud and Soumah had appeared moved by parents' testimony, which at one point reduced both of them to tears.
Boulahcen, whose sister Hasna was killed alongside the two jihadists in the raid on the apartment, had not been held in custody during the trial.
Bendaoud was set to be released on Wednesday night, a prison source said.