He doubted his son’s innocence three times, before finding the arguments to ward off the accusations: Humberto Zepeda, Nicolas’ father, accused of having murdered Narumi Kurosaki, spoke out in an interview with AFP.
In April 2022, Chilean Nicolas Zepeda was sentenced to 28 years in prison for the murder of his ex-girlfriend. His body has never been found.
Then on appeal, Humberto Zepeda, 60 years old, gave all his strength to exonerate his son, after having taken up all the points of the investigation for three years and written an argument of around a hundred pages. To devote himself to this task, which devoured all his savings, this former executive in the telecommunications sector, with the value of work deeply rooted in his heart, ended his career prematurely.
Question: Did you ever think your son was guilty?
Answer: “Yes, and not just once, three times. The first was when I started reading the file, which was particularly hard. Then, when I discovered the motivations for the decision to extradition (from Chile to France in 2020), around the geolocation of Nicolas’ phone. And finally, at the first trial, when I see the prosecutor puff out his chest and say: +Here is a video of a prowler+, from of a camera which shows a hooded person, who looked like Nicolas.”
Humberto Zepeda (d), the father of Nicolas Zepeda, makes a statement to the press on the first day of his son’s appeal trial for the assassination of Narumi Kurosaki before the Haute-Saône assize court, December 4, 2023 in Vesoul / Sebastien Bozon / AFP
Q: But you stated in court, on appeal, that you were now convinced of his innocence…
A: “I have been doing research for three years. In the extradition decision, one of the most important things that the judge takes into account is Nicolas’ geolocation, which stops working for an hour (when, according to the accusation, he got rid of the body).But the data was not satisfactory.
To geolocate Nicolas, there were three ways: his phone, the rental car’s GPS, and the car’s SIM card. It was the geolocation of his SFR phone that was retained. Oddly, the vehicle’s GPS data was erased.
The data from the car’s SIM card, from the Orange network, was requested by Jacqueline Laffont (Nicolas Zepeda’s lawyer at first instance, Editor’s note), and was given to her in the final days of the first trial.
During this period (without telephone data), the car’s SIM card connected several antennas: in fact, the car continued to drive! Mistakes like this, I told myself there must be others.
Investigators found nothing in (Narumi’s) room, nothing in the vehicle, nothing where the body was allegedly left. According to initial investigations, the body had been burned and buried in the forest. But in the forest they found nothing. What option remained for the prosecution? To think that the body had been thrown into the river, even though there were three dams and the divers didn’t find anything either.”
Photos of Narumi Kurosaki on the desk of his family’s lawyer, Me Sylvie Galley, on the first day of Nicolas Zepeda’s appeal trial, December 4, 2023 in Vesoul / Sebastien Bozon / AFP
Q: When you learned of Narumi Kurosaki’s disappearance, did you ask him if he was involved?
A: “Shortly before Christmas, I learned about it from the press, not from Nicolas. I called him immediately: -+Nico, did you know?+
-+I was told about this story which came out in the press+, he told me. I decide to go to Santiago (to speak to him in person). I feared that Nicolas would be involved. I traveled 500 kilometers crying and praying. But he explained everything to me, I calmed down. +Narumi will reappear, don’t worry+, he told me. +She already disappeared when she was with me+.”
Q: What will you say if your son is convicted on appeal?
A: “The world will see that they convicted someone following a poorly done investigation. If I had the slightest doubt about my son’s guilt, I would not be here, I would not have traveled 14,000 kilometers to defend the indefensible.”
Q: And if Nicolas confesses, how will you react?
A: “I couldn’t believe it, I would think it’s a strategy with the lawyers to reduce the sentence. And if it’s not a strategy, I would say to Nicolas: + you remain my son, let’s talk, explain “What happened, how did it happen. I love you, and you will always be my son.”