Photo/IllutrationThe Tokyo Detention House in Katsushika Ward where Carlos Ghosn has been kept since Nov. 19 (Wataru Sekita)

Unless Carlos Ghosn is unexpectedly re-arrested on new accusations, the next major judicial test surrounding the former chairman of Nissan Motor Co. will be whether the Tokyo District Court agrees to release him on bail.

Lawyers for Ghosn, 64, on Jan. 11 submitted a request for release on bail.

When Ghosn appeared in court on Jan. 8 to hear why prosecutors were detaining him, he declared he was innocent of all allegations of financial misconduct, calling them "without merit and unsubstantiated."

Analysts said Ghosn's appearance in court was part of a strategy by his defense lawyers to push forward the process regarding release on bail.

Greg Kelly, a former representative board member who was first arrested Nov. 19 on suspicion of conspiring with Ghosn to under-report his annual remuneration, was granted bail in late December when his lawyers made their initial request.

The release of Kelly from the Tokyo Detention House was considered an unusual move because suspects who deny guilt during questioning in cases handled by the Special Investigation Department of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office are normally not released so quickly, on grounds they might destroy evidence.

Akira Kitani, a lawyer who once served as a criminal court judge, noted that there is huge international interest in the Ghosn case, which must add pressure on the court to take a less draconian approach to the issue of continued detention.

"Since a precedent has been set, the court will likely face the need to change how it handles bail decisions in a more general sense, rather than only treat foreigners in a special way," Kitani said.

But prosecutors are expected to put up a fight in arguing against the release of Ghosn, in comparison to their approach when Kelly's lawyer sought early release.

Prosecutors will likely argue that if he is released, Ghosn may try to contact officials at Nissan and seek to conceal evidence by calling on them to match their stories with his.

Prosecutors will point out that Ghosn wields far stronger influence than Kelly, and stress that those who agreed to plea bargaining and provided evidence against Ghosn could face undue pressure to change their tune if he is released.

Another factor weighing against Ghosn is that the latest indictment was for aggravated breach of trust.

It is an accusation that is much more complicated in terms of accumulating the evidence needed to find a suspect guilty.

Even lawyers for Ghosn acknowledge that in the past, cases of a similar nature rarely resulted in bail requests being approved, especially if the suspect had denied guilt.

The bail decision will be made by a judge at Tokyo District Court who handles detention and bail requests as a specialty.

Kelly's release on bail had a number of conditions attached: for example, he must not travel overseas nor make any attempt to contact Nissan officials.

In Ghosn's case, a veteran criminal court judge said a key factor will be the extent to which prosecutors can demonstrate concern that he would conceal or destroy evidence if released.