Chilean man gets 28 years over murder of Japanese woman

BESANCON, France (Jiji Press) — A French court sentenced a 31-year-old Chilean man to 28 years in prison over a murder of a Japanese woman who went missing while studying in Besancon, eastern France, in December 2016.

Nicolas Zepeda Contreras, the Chilean man, was a former boyfriend of the Japanese woman, Narumi Kurosaki, who was a student of the University of Tsukuba in the eastern Japan prefecture of Ibaraki.

French prosecutors had sought a life sentence for Zepeda, the severest penalty in France. The court did not mention the reason for the sentence.

The focal point of the trial which started on March 29 was whether prosecutors could prove that Zepeda murdered Kurosaki and abandoned her body while there was no direct evidence to support the allegations.

Zepeda denies the charges against him. A lawyer for him said that no decision has been made on whether to appeal.

According to the prosecutors, Kurosaki went missing after having dinner with Zepeda and returning to her dormitory room by a car rented by him.

Later, messages by someone who was apparently in disguise of Kurosaki were sent from her mobile phone to her family and friends.

Zepeda has admitted he spent time with Kurosaki in her dormitory room and insisted that he left the room alone.

He returned to Chile soon after Kurosaki went missing and was handed over to the French side in July 2020 after being wanted internationally.

Past court hearings were attended by Kurosaki’s mother and sister as well as Zepeda’s parents.

Several students who lived in the same dormitory said that they heard screams there in the early hours of the day she disappeared.

A female Japanese acquaintance of Zepeda said that she was asked by him to translate into Japanese such sentences as “I’ve got a new boyfriend.”

In 2018, local authorities in Besancon ended the search for Kurosaki.