French, Chilean authorities meet in case of missing Japanese student

French investigators met with prosecutors in Chile on Tuesday, the day before the planned questioning of Nicolas Zepeda, a Chilean man who is the sole suspect in the 2016 disappearance of his ex-girlfriend, a Japanese university student, in eastern France.
"We expect Mr Zepeda to respond to all of the evidence we have," Besancon public prosecutor Etienne Manteaux, who arrived in Santiago earlier in the week, told reporters.
"It's possible that Mr Zepeda will respond tomorrow in a way that makes us doubt his guilt (in killing 21-year-old Narumi Kurosaki) ... The question of extradition could come later," Manteaux said.
The meeting between Chilean authorities and the French delegation -- which included a judge overseeing the case and two police investigators, along with Manteaux -- lasted an hour.
"We were asked to carry out several operations following the investigation in France," said Antonio Segovia, director of the International Cooperation and Extradition Unit in the Chilean prosecutor's office. "The French delegation is here to assist in the execution of these operations, which will be carried out by a Chilean public prosecutor."
In this case, it is only the Chilean prosecutor who can decide whether or not to arrest the suspect after his interrogation.
The outcome of that decision would then determine whether or not France would submit an extradition request so Zepeda could be tried in France. A Chilean judge had previously denied a request to arrest and extradite Zepeda, citing insufficient evidence.
Japanese student Kurosaki had been living in the university city of Besancon in eastern France when she disappeared on the night of Dec 4, 2016, and despite extensive searches, her body has not been found.
Investigators in France believe 28-year-old Zepeda, who had been broken up with Kurosaki for several months, 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, Manteuax said in November.
No trace of blood was ever found in Kurosaki's room and Zepeda denies any involvement in her disappearance.

© 2019 AFP
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