The judicial police officer in charge of the investigation into the disappearance of Japanese student Narumi Kurosaki in 2016 in Besançon delivered on Thursday 7 December a precise and detailed account, damning for Nicolas Zepeda, who is appearing before the Assize Court of Vesoul for murder. "It's a weakness in a criminal case not to have a body," David Borne, a brigadier at the Besançon police station, told the jury.
But it allowed us to dig deep into what we could do, to answer everything." For two hours, David Borne recounted in detail the investigations carried out over four years, mobilizing French, Spanish, Japanese and Chilean investigation services, compiled in an 8000-page file.
Read alsoNarumi case: Nicolas Zepeda finally acknowledges his presence in the victim's residence
He began by mentioning the first suspicions, placed on Arthur Del Piccolo, Narumi's boyfriend at the time of her disappearance. "It's true that his behaviour is peculiar. He intellectualises everything, he does an investigation with his friends," explains David Borne. But investigators are not collecting any evidence that would allow him to be taken into custody. On the contrary, they quickly turn their search to another suspect, Nicolas Zepeda, the Japanese student's previous boyfriend.
'Screams of horror'
In the first instance, the investigator's testimony had turned the trial on its head, which had resulted in the Chilean being sentenced to 28 years' imprisonment. The defence lawyers, Renaud Portejoie and Sylvain Cormier, disputed that he testified on the basis of notes. "He reads his statement in its entirety, it's forbidden in the Assize Court," says Renaud Portejoie. "The principle of oral debates is a matter of public order, and I have a problem with that." I'm going to ask you to detach yourself from your notes," the president of the court, Arnaud François, intervened to put an end to the incident.
But the police officer continues his account of an extraordinary investigation that he knows like the back of his hand. He recalls the "screams of horror" heard in a university residence on the night of December 4 to 5, 2016. "We realize that that night, there is really something serious that happened near Narumi's room," the investigator said.
Earlier in the evening, Narumi Kurosaki had dinner at a restaurant with Nicolas Zepeda. The judicial police shed, with the help of the exploitation of telephone terminals, payments by credit card, on the course of the Chilean's stay in France, his movements and his purchases. "He buys items that are disturbing, to say the least: a box of matches, five litres of flammable product and a spray of detergent," explains David Borne: "It surprises us.»
CCTV showed an individual with his face covered who "took an interest in the dormitory" a few days earlier: "He took a picture of it, tried to enter through the door of the laundry room." The individual's appearances in front of the surveillance cameras correspond exactly to the hours and days that Nicolas Zepeda visited the campus.
The officer also described how the accused had "taken possession" of the victim's social networks. "Jealous," he "doesn't accept that Narumi could have made male friends on French territory," he observes. "He has a particular obsession with Arthur Del Piccolo." Messages, sent by Facebook from the victim's account several days after his last public appearance, "considerably delayed the start of the investigation," the police officer said. "If we are seized earlier, (Zepeda) will no longer take the plane" to return to Chile.
The officer also said that Nicolas Zepeda had stopped at night on December 1 in a forest area "absolutely not touristy", near a river. He returned on the 6th, after the disappearance, in the early hours of the day, still in the dark. For the prosecution, these arrests correspond to "scouting" and then to the abandonment of the body.
We brought in the river brigades, the dog handlers. We did some hunting, we searched by boat, but we couldn't find him," says David Borne. Narumi Kurosaki "didn't leave on her own, and you can't imagine that she committed suicide," he concludes. "The only solution we have is for her to be murdered. And the one and only suspect is Nicolás Zepeda.»