"I don't recognize myself." Nicolas Zepada, on appeal for the murder of his ex-girlfriend Narumi Kurosaki, was confronted on Thursday with CCTV footage of the residence of the Japanese student, who disappeared in 2016. He had been sentenced in April 2022 by the Doubs Assize Court to 28 years in prison, his appeal trial began on Monday before the Assize Court of Vesoul (Haute-Saône). On Thursday, he denied being the hooded person seen several times in the footage.
Read alsoNarumi's death: will her alleged killer Nicolas Zepeda stand by his denials on appeal?
These are certainly not of very good quality. "The residence was equipped with video surveillance, but we realized that their system was obsolete," David Borne, judicial police officer and head of the investigation into the disappearance of the young woman, admitted on the stand as of December 5, 2016 in Besançon. In the days leading up to the event, a person was repeatedly filmed prowling around the building, monitored by two cameras, one observing the entrance, the other the back of the residence.
A balaclava with two holes for the eyes
On the night of December 1, the person in a dark coat and light blue jeans was seen six times between 00:30 and 07:12 in the morning, while the campus was deserted. She is seen pulling out what appears to be a phone to take a picture. The geolocation of Nicolas Zepeda's vehicle allowed the investigator to confirm that the accused was in the area at the time.
"Is that you?" asked Arnaud François, president of the court. "I don't recognize myself," the defendant replied. "At that time, you are on the residence?" the attorney general, Étienne Manteaux, continued. "I had the car parked, I sometimes went out for a walk," Zepeda said. "Did you walk behind the Rousseau building?" asks Mr. Manteaux, annoyed. "I'm going out for a walk, that's for sure, but I don't recognize myself," he insists. According to the prosecution, Nicolas Zepeda, "sickly jealous", "spent the night spying" on Narumi Kurosaki, and followed her in the early hours of the morning, when she went to the centre for applied linguistics in Besançon.
Read alsoNarumi's murder trial: new videos against Nicolas Zepeda
Another similar exchange took place after a video recorded on the afternoon of December 2 was viewed, this time in daylight. It shows a person in jeans and a dark coat, but this time wearing a balaclava with two holes for eyes. According to the geolocation, once again, Nicolás Zepeda is present in this area. "Mr. Zepeda, does that suit you?" asked President Arnaud François. "What bothers me is what's on his head," he replies.
"I have a little doubt about the schedule"
On another viewing, the accused was more assertive, but not entirely categorical. The footage, taken from a distance, also on December 2, shows a person waiting at the door of the residence for someone to come out to enter it, without it being possible to tell if he is wearing a balaclava. "It's true that I entered this building," says Nicolas Zepeda, in line with his statements the day before, in which he admitted that he had come inside the building. "But I have a little doubt about the schedule," he said.
VIDEO. 'The family comes without any hope': Nicolas Zepeda on appeal for alleged murder of Narumi Kurosaki
His own lawyers, Renaud Portejoie and Sylvain Cormier, insist on a clear answer to whether it is him. "It's likely," he says. "It was about two hours before two witnesses said they had seen Nicolas Zepeda in the residence," said investigator David Cormier.
On December 4, a camera recorded the entry of two people into the residence at 22:57 p.m. According to investigators, they are Narumi Kurosaki and Nicolas Zepeda, returning to her room after having dinner at a restaurant. This is the last known image of the Japanese student. That night, "screams of terror" woke up several students in the residence. From the beginning, the Chilean has denied any involvement in the disappearance of the young woman.