National / Crime & Legal

Chilean suspect quizzed over Japanese ex-girlfriend's disappearance in France

AFP-JIJI, Kyodo

Chilean authorities on Wednesday questioned a man suspected of involvement in the 2016 disappearance of his Japanese ex-girlfriend in France.

Nicolas Zepeda was interviewed by the public prosecutor in Santiago on Wednesday morning before leaving the Justice Center just after midday without speaking to reporters.

He is the only suspect in the disappearance of Japanese student Narumi Kurosaki, then 21, in eastern France.

Chilean prosecutors met with French investigators on Tuesday ahead of Zepeda’s questioning. Attorney General Tania Sanchez said only that proceedings had been carried out at the request of French authorities.

French authorities suspect that Zepeda murdered Kurosaki, a student from the University of Tsukuba in Ibaraki Prefecture who was studying in France at the time of her disappearance. She went missing after dining and returning with Zepeda to the dorm of her university in Besancon, eastern France, on Dec. 4, 2016.

Kurosaki’s body has not been found and Zepeda has denied the allegation in a statement submitted to Chilean authorities.

France is hoping to provide sufficient evidence to see Zepeda arrested and extradited to face a murder charge.

A Chilean judge had previously denied a request to arrest and extradite Zepeda, citing insufficient evidence.

Investigators in France believe the 28-year-old Zepeda suffocated her in a jealous rage.

He returned to Chile before French police issued an arrest warrant.

Kurosaki was last seen hours before her disappearance having dinner with Zepeda in a restaurant in Ornans, near Besancon.

Fellow students in her dormitory reported hearing terrified cries and banging noises later that same night, Besancon public prosecutor Etienne Manteuax said in November.

No trace of blood was ever found in Kurosaki’s room and Zepeda denies any involvement in her disappearance.