Nissan’s ex-chair appears in court

TOKYO — The former chairman of Japan’s Nissan, Carlos Ghosn, appeared in court on Tuesday and asserted his innocence while demanding the reason for his prolonged detention.

The hearing was Ghosn’s first public appearance since his Nov. 19 arrest.

Ghosn, appearing in a dark suit without a tie and wearing plastic slippers and looking thinner than he had before his arrest, denied any wrongdoing.

“Your honor, I am innocent of the accusations against me,” he said. “I am wrongfully accused,” he said, reading from a prepared statement.

Prosecutors have charged Ghosn with falsifying financial reports in underreporting his income. Widely respected for having saved the Japanese automaker from near bankruptcy, Ghosn said the company’s and his own finances were harmed by the global financial crisis a decade ago.

He said he had an option to retire and use his retirement fund to restore his personal finances, harmed by volatile forex moves at the time.

But he decided to stay and restore Nissan, he said.

Presiding judge Yuichi Tada read out the charges and said Ghosn was being detained because he was considered a flight risk and there was the risk he may hide evidence.

He was handcuffed with a rope around his waist. Two guards who led him in uncuffed him and sat with him on a bench.

According to a statement released before the hearing to some media, including The Associated Press, by people familiar with the case, Ghosn said he had “acted honorably, legally and with the knowledge and approval of the appropriate executives inside the company with the sole purpose of supporting and strengthening Nissan.”