The Japanese lawyer nicknamed the “Razor” who was spearheading Carlos Ghosn’s defence said Thursday he is quitting the case after his client skipped bail and fled Japan for Lebanon.
Junichiro Hironaka’s office issued a brief statement saying they had “filed with the Tokyo District Court letters of resignation for all lawyers connected with all cases related to Mr Carlos Ghosn”.
Hironaka, 74, who earned his nickname for sharp legal strategies, winning innocent verdicts in high-profile cases in a nation where the conviction rate is higher than 99% and an enviable acquittal record, said he was “dumbfounded” by Ghosn’s escape, which he discovered via the media on the morning his client fled.
Among the cases he has handled is that of Atsuko Muraki, a welfare ministry official accused of falsely approving a group to qualify for mail discounts. She was acquitted in 2010.
Hironaka said that he had felt some empathy for Ghosn’s reasons for escape, while stressing he had hoped to win vindication in court.
In a news conference last week in Beirut, Ghosn insisted again that he was innocent of the charges of underreporting his future compensation and of breach of trust in diverting Nissan Motor Co. money for his personal gain.
He said he fled because he felt he could not expect a fair trial in Japan.
Ghosn’s flight while he was out on bail awaiting trial, means his case will not go on in Japan and while Interpol has issued a wanted notice, his extradition from Lebanon is unlikely.
Ghosn has accused Nissan officials and Japanese officials of conspiring to bring him down to block a fuller integration of Nissan with its French alliance partner Renault SA of France.
Ghosn, who has signed on an international team of lawyers, has expressed willingness to stand trial in Lebanon.