Chile suspect to remain free ahead of extraditon: court

Santiago (AFP) –


Chile's top court on Wednesday denied prosecutors' requests to jail a 29-year-old man awaiting extradition to France to face charges of murdering his Japanese ex-girlfriend.

The state prosecutor's office -- which represents the interests of the French state in the case -- argued that Nicolas Zepeda was a "flight risk" and sought to ensure he was held in custody while awaiting extradition.

Supreme Court judge Jorge Dahm maintained a ban on Zapeda leaving the country and a requirement that he report weekly to police, but ruled against holding him in preventive custody.

The judge said Zepeda had complied with his obligations under the extradition agreement and said "there is no immediate danger of flight."

Chile last month agreed to France's request to extradite Zepeda, and the move was formally confirmed by the Supreme Court last week.

Dahm said Wednesday that a date for the extradition had yet to be set, as both countries had shut their borders over the coronavirus pandemic.

Zepeda, the son of a wealthy Chilean family, met Kurosaki in Japan in 2014 where he was a student. A year later, they began a relationship that ended after Kurosaki moved to France in August 2016.

In Besancon, France, Kurosaki entered a new relationship, which prosecutors said angered Zepeda, who threatened Kurosaki in an online video he later removed.

Kurosaki, 21, went missing from her university residence in Besancon, a town near the French Alps, in December 2018.

Investigators said that in the days before her disappearance, Zepeda flew to France, hired a car and drove to Besancon to meet her.

On the way, they said he stopped to buy matches, flammable liquid and bleach at a supermarket.

Her body has never been found, despite extensive searches.

Zepeda was questioned in April last year by a Chilean judge in the presence of French investigators.

He denies any hand in Kurosaki's disappearance.