The murder of a Japanese student. Opening of the trial at the Assize Court of Doubs.

Chilean Nicolas Zepeda, accused of murdering his Japanese ex-girlfriend, Narumi Kurosaki, who disappeared without a trace in December 2016, arrived at Besançon court on Tuesday morning, shortly before the opening of his Doubs court case. .

neighboring France


A prison administration car with opaque windows with the 31-year-old young man arrived, ahead of cyclists, in court around 1 p.m. 8:00, AFP journalists noted. His arrival was confirmed by a source with knowledge of the case.

The accused has been detained since the summer of 2020 after being extradited from Chile and risks life imprisonment. He claims his innocence.

Arrived on the arm of his lawyer with his head down and masked, the mother of Narumi Kurosaki, visibly very moved, took her place on the bench for the civil parties, accompanied by the victim’s youngest sister. The two women, silent, held each other’s hands.

None of the defense attorneys or civilian parties made a statement to the press before the opening of this trial, which was scheduled for 6 p.m. 10:00. The hearings continue until 12 April.

Japanese and Spanish translation

Coming from Santiago de Chile, the parents of Nicolas Zepeda also arrived together in court, taking a decisive step in front of the many journalists present with their faces closed.

In the courtroom, the time differences with Tokyo and Santiago de Chile were shown under a large screen available for testimony, which was broadcast at video conferences from abroad. This extraordinary trial will be translated into Japanese and Spanish at the same time.

After Tuesday, which is mainly intended to identify the defendant’s personality, the witnesses will be questioned from Wednesday, before the defendant is questioned the next day about the facts themselves, according to the planned schedule.

“A house of cards”

“There is no evidence of death, no place, no precise details, no clear scenario of what happened. (…) This file is a bit of a house of cards,” Nicolas Zepeda’s defense argued before the trial.

Nicolas Zepeda claims to have spent the night of December 4th to 5th and the following day with his ex-girlfriend. He would have left her alive on December 6 around 4:30 a.m. and then continued his European journey as planned.

“Neither their relationship, his background, nor his personality provide any element that can explain or announce such a step into action,” the defense insists.

“No doubt”

The prosecution offers a completely different version: without support for having been fired, the person who had met Narumi Kurosaki a year earlier at a university in Japan would have deliberately gone to Besançon, where she studied French, to find it there by surprise. .

He would have strangled her in his room on the university campus before disposing of the body in a Jura forest, not far from Dole. Nicolas Zepeda would then have sent messages to relatives of Narumi Kurosaki on social networks and posed as his victim, the time to return to Chile without worry.

On the civilian side, the family of Narumi Kurosaki and her new French boyfriend, Arthur Del Piccolo, expect Nicolas Zepeda to offer “scenarios other than the one accusing him”.

“We have absolutely no doubt about the involvement of Zepeda, because several elements of the case confirm this involvement,” confirms Me Randall Schwerdorffer, lawyer for Mr. Del Piccolo.

“Like in a horror movie”

Among these items are phone data, the geolocation of the car rented by Nicolas Zepeda during his stay in France, purchases by credit card, including the purchase of a can of flammable product and matches or the disturbing testimony of a cousin he had visited in Spain before he returned to Chile.

The night between December 4th and 5th, “screams of horror”, “shrill screams from women”, as “in a horror movie” or as if “someone was murdered”, were heard by students at Narumi Kurosaki’s dormitory. But none of them had alerted the police.

Then, the messages Nicolas Zepeda sent to the student’s relatives would have obscured the tracks, according to the prosecution, further delaying the reporting of her disappearance that took place on December 13th.

Proud of their daughter and her brilliant studies, the divorced parents of Narumi, from a very modest background, expect, above all, of this lawsuit that Nicolas Zepeda confesses. “They want to come back with the body of their daughter” to offer her a funeral and finally be able to mourn, stresses Me Sylvie Galley, their lawyer.


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