Police investigators picked up Nicolas Zepeda (in the back of the car, right) from his home in Viña del Mar, Chile, on July 22, 2020, the day before his extradition to France.

Chilean Nicolas Zepeda, suspected of having murdered his Japanese ex-girlfriend in France in 2016, was extradited from Chile and indicted for murder on Friday July 24 in Besançon, which paves the way for a possible trial. In the evening, he was remanded in custody following a debate before the liberty and detention judge.

This procedure relaunches a judicial soap opera that has held the Japanese media in suspense for more than three and a half years, contrasting with the relative indifference of Chileans to this file. “The Zepeda case is criminal in nature and relates to violence against women. It is not a process which is linked to politics or which compromises relations between Chile and France ”, according to René Jara, professor at the University of Santiago.

On Wednesday evening, the Chilean police came to look for Nicolas Zepeda at his home, in an opulent building in the seaside resort of Vina del Mar, some 120 kilometers from the capital. He was then transferred to the airport in Santiago de Chile. Arrived on French soil on Friday, he was immediately taken to Besançon, where he was indicted, announced the public prosecutor, Etienne Manteaux. The latter will ask a judge of freedoms and detention to place him in pre-trial detention.

Body not found

Narumi Kurosaki, a 21-year-old student, lived on the Besançon university campus where she was last seen on December 4, 2016. Nicolas Zepeda, son of a wealthy Chilean family, was her former boyfriend. According to the investigation, shortly before Narumi’s disappearance, the two young people had distanced themselves and the Japanese student had started a new relationship, arousing the jealousy of the Chilean, who was then in his country.

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The Besançon prosecutor, Etienne Manteaux, visited Chile in April 2019 with an examining magistrate and two investigators. Seven months later, he announced that the investigation was “Close” and that the “Thirty-four months of investigations” justified “The extradition request of Nicolas Zepeda to appear before the Assize Court of Besançon for the assassination of Narumi Kurosaki”.

According to investigators, Nicolas Zepeda went to this city in early December 2016 to see the young woman. On the evening of December 4, the day before she disappeared, they returned to Narumi’s home together. That night, according to the prosecutor, several students heard “Howls of terror, cries”, But “Nobody told the police”.

Nicolas Zepeda had met the student in Japan in 2014. According to the geolocation of his rental car, on December 6, 2016 at dawn, the suspect had gone to a wooded area of ​​the Jura mountain range, where the investigators believe he got rid of the body. A few days earlier, he had bought matches and a can of flammable product, according to the investigation. Despite extensive research, the body has never been found.

In a letter sent by the suspect to the Chilean authorities, Nicolas Zepeda had said that he had gone to see Narumi in Besançon in early December 2016 and that they were then “Realized that they were still in love”. He said he spent part of the night of December 4 to 5 with her, but then said he left alone.

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The World with AFP

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