“I Didn’t Kill Narumi”: The Trial That Traps France

What happened on the night of December 4, 2016 in room 106 of the Rousseau University Residence in the French town of Beçancon? It is the question that a media trial launched in France, which spans three continents and has all the ingredients, aims to shed light on, mixing black chronicles, diplomatic contacts, television spotlights and the mystery of a body that never turns up . The Chilean Nicolas Zepeda Since yesterday he has been sitting on the judge’s bench in a trial that runs until December 22nd for the murder of his Japanese ex-girlfriend Narumi Kurosaki on this date. A crime he denies. The file runs to 8,000 pages, investigators have been mobilized in France, Japan and Chile, and there is an avalanche of incriminating evidence but no confession.

Zepeda, currently 32 years old, was sentenced to 28 years in prison in April 2022 for the premeditated murder of Kurosaki, but appealed the first instance verdict. Now he faces another life sentence. The new trial coincides with the seventh anniversary of the 21-year-old Japanese woman’s disappearance in Beçancon, where she was learning French.

The prosecutor’s theory is that the Chilean woman made a surprise trip to this French city, spent the night of December 4th to 5th with Kurosaki, suffocated and strangled her before throwing her body into the Doubs River. Zepeda and Kurosaki had broken up a few months earlier. According to the prosecution, the Chilean killed her because he never got over the separation. The two had met two years earlier, in 2014, in Japan. The justice system accuses him not only of making the body disappear, but also of impersonating her on social networks and hacking her accounts to pretend that Kurosaki was still alive. In this way he was able to gain time and escape to Chile.

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Zepeda’s trial began in 2017 when an international arrest warrant was issued in France against the Chilean. However, the order was dismissed by a Chilean judge. Two years later, in December 2019, France filed an extradition request, which was granted in April 2020. The Chilean was finally extradited in July of the same year and taken into preventive detention. The trial was interrupted due to the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent border closures.

Back in February 2021, a French judge ordered Zepeda to be tried for murder. The lawyer’s unexpected resignation at the last minute in February Antoine Vey In order to defend the Chilean, the trial had to be postponed on appeal. The relationship between the defendant in preventive detention and his lawyers – famous names in France – has been very turbulent in recent years. His lawyer in the first instance, the renowned one Jacqueline LaffontHe admitted he finished the first trial “very upset.” The defendant, who comes from a wealthy family, changed the lawyer of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy against Vey. Another lawyer, Julien DreyfusThe actual defender also gave up a few weeks ago.

Now his new team of defense attorneys assures that they will try to “turn the situation around” by “re-reading the case,” a strategy based on calling new witnesses and submitting another psychiatric report. Zepeda studied public administration at the University of Chile. He is also the son of a high-ranking telephone company official. In 2014, the Chilean traveled to Japan to study in Tsukuba, where he met Kurosaki. According to the version that Zepeda defended to the end, when he left the residence at dawn on December 6, Kurosaki was in perfect condition.

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