the impossible defense of Nicolas Zepeda, judged on appeal

On December 4, 2016, Narumi Kurosaki, a 21-year-old Japanese student enrolled in economics at the University of Besançon, left her dance class and returned to her residence. In the parking lot, her Chilean ex-boyfriend, Nicolas Zepeda, is waiting for her. He had not warned her of his arrival. The young woman agrees to go to dinner at the restaurant with him, then they return together to the young woman’s home.

Their image, a little blurry, passing through the front door, is captured by a surveillance camera. This is the last one that shows Narumi Kurosaki alive. The student’s body was never found. Seven years to the day after his disappearance, the appeal trial of Nicolas Zepeda, sentenced in April 2022 to twenty-eight years of criminal imprisonment for murder, opens before the Haute-Saône Assize Court of Appeal, in Vesoul.

For the third time, the accused changed lawyers. During the investigation and to ensure his defense during the trial at first instance before the Doubs Assize Court, in Besançon, his choice fell on Me Jacqueline Laffont, who was also the advisor to the former President of the Republic, Nicolas Sarkozy. Three trying weeks of hearing had consummated the rupture between Me Laffont, his client and the latter’s parents.

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers Nicolas Zepeda, his deadly jealousy, and the unbearable freedom of Narumi Kurosaki

For the appeal trial, they then requested Me Antoine Vey, the former associate of the Minister of Justice, Eric Dupond-Moretti. Alas, a few days before the start of the hearing, in February 2023, he threw in the towel. In a letter addressed to the president of the court, Mr.e Vey informed him that he had not obtained the mandate he requested from his client. “In any case, in compliance with professional secrecy, I inform you that the current situation will prevent me, in conscience, from ensuring his defense,” specified Me Vey.

Nicolas Zepeda then refused the lawyers that the president of the court assigned to him and appointed two new counsel, Mr.are Renaud Portejoie and Julien Dreyfus, who requested and obtained an adjournment of the trial to prepare the case.

Vertigo of evidence

And now at the end of November, Me Dreyfus in turn wrote to the president of the court to announce that he was giving up defending Nicolas Zepeda. A decision which followed a final heated interview during a meeting between the accused and his counsel. Remained silent for a few days, Me Portejoie ended up confirming that he remained the young Chilean’s lawyer, but alongside a newcomer, Mr.e Sylvain Cormier. The latter, who notably defended footballer Karim Benzema in the sex tape affair, had been contacted for several weeks by Nicolas Zepeda’s father.

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