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Nissan’s former chairman, Carlos Ghosn, appeared in a Japanese courtroom Thursday for a hearing ahead of his trial on accusations of financial misconduct.

It was the first of a series of hearings to iron out logistics for Ghosn’s actual trial. The trial date has not been set, and experts say it could be months away.

Ghosn, who led the Japanese automaker for two decades, was arrested in November and charged with underreporting his income and breach of trust. He was released on bail in March, rearrested in April on fresh accusations and then released again on bail on April 25.

Ghosn insists he is innocent and says he was targeted in a “conspiracy” by others at Nissan Motor Co.

Nissan, which is allied with Renault SA of France, has seen profits nose-dive amid the fallout from Ghosn’s arrest.

Ghosn has hired a strong legal team as he fights to clear his name. One of his top lawyers, Junichiro Hironaka, was seen walking into the courtroom Thursday with Ghosn.

One of the conditions of Ghosn’s release on bail is that he is forbidden to contact his wife. Prosecutors say that’s to prevent evidence tampering.

Ghosn’s lawyers challenged that restriction, saying it is a violation of human rights, but the Supreme Court rejected their appeal Tuesday.

The lawyers can appeal again to have the restriction removed.

In a briefing Thursday, Deputy Chief Prosecutor Shin Kukimoto welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision.

“For married people to be together is important, but I feel there was enough reason for the Supreme Court to support us in this restriction,” he said.

Kukimoto declined comment on the hearing, which was closed to reporters and the public.

Kukimoto also said the maximum penalty upon conviction of all 15 counts of the charges Ghosn is facing is 15 years in prison and a fine of 150 million yen ($1.4 million).




A challenge against British government plans to expand Heathrow Airport through the construction of a third runway has begun in one of the country's highest courts.

A coalition of local councils, environmentalists and London residents claim the government has failed to properly address the impact on air quality, climate change, noise and congestion that expansion would bring.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan is also backing the lawsuit. Demonstrators gathered outside the High Court on Monday for the first day of a two-week hearing.

Parliament approved plans last year for the third runway, backing what the government described as the most important transportation project in a generation.

Prime Minister Theresa May has said the expansion will boost economic growth.



Congo's presidential runner-up Martin Fayulu has asked the constitutional court to order a recount in the disputed election, declaring on Saturday that "you can't manufacture results behind closed doors."

He could be risking more than the court's refusal. Congo's electoral commission president Corneille Nangaa has said there are only two options: The official results are accepted or the vote is annulled — which would keep President Joseph Kabila in power until another election. The Dec. 30 one came after two years of delays.

"They call me the people's soldier ... and I will not let the people down," Fayulu said. Evidence from witnesses at polling stations across the country is being submitted to the court, which is full of Kabila appointees.

Rifle-carrying members of Kabila's Republican Guard deployed outside Fayulu's home and the court earlier Saturday. It was an attempt to stop him from filing, Fayulu said while posting a video of them on Twitter: "The fear remains in their camp."

Fayulu has accused the declared winner, opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi, of a backroom deal with Kabila to win power in the mineral-rich nation as the ruling party candidate, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, did poorly.

The opposition coalition for Fayulu, a businessman vocal about cleaning up widespread corruption, has said he won 61 percent of the vote, citing figures compiled by the Catholic Church's 40,000 election observers across the vast Central African country.




An adviser to Europe's top court says Google doesn't have to extend "right to be forgotten" rules to its search engines globally.

The European Court of Justice's advocate general released a preliminary opinion Thursday in the case involving the U.S. tech company and France's data privacy regulator.

The case stems from the court's 2014 ruling that people have the right to control what appears when their name is searched online. That decision forced Google to delete links to outdated or embarrassing personal information that popped up in searches.

Advocate General Maciej Szpunar's opinion said the court "should limit the scope of the de-referencing that search engine operators are required to carry out," and that it shouldn't have to do it for all domain names, according to a statement.

Opinions from the court's advocate general aren't binding but the court often follows them when it hands down its ruling, which is expected later.

The case highlighted the need to balance data privacy and protection concerns against the public's right to know. It also raised thorny questions about how to enforce differing legal jurisdictions when it comes to the borderless internet.

Google's senior privacy counsel, Peter Fleischer, said the company acknowledges that the right to privacy and public access to information "are important to people all around the world ... We've worked hard to ensure that the right to be forgotten is effective for Europeans, including using geolocation to ensure 99 percent effectiveness."



The Republican in the nation's last undecided congressional race asked a North Carolina court Thursday to require that he be declared the winner because the now-defunct state elections board didn't act.

A lawsuit by GOP candidate Mark Harris claims the disbanded elections board had been declared unconstitutional, so its investigation into alleged ballot fraud by an operative hired by the Republican's campaign was invalid.

The elections board was dissolved Dec. 28 by state judges who in October declared its makeup unconstitutional but had allowed investigations to continue. A revamped board doesn't officially come into existence until Jan. 31.

"Time is of the essence," Harris' lawsuit states. Because the new elections board won't be created for weeks, "the uniform finality of a federal election is endangered by the State Board's actions and the citizens of the 9th District have no representation in Congress."

State elections staffers on Wednesday said a planned Jan. 11 evidentiary hearing to outline what investigators have found since November's election had to be postponed due to the lack of a board authorized to subpoena witnesses and hold hearings.

The investigation is continuing, however, with Harris being interviewed for two hours Thursday as all other U.S. House winners were sworn into office in Washington.



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