A French judge has ordered a trial for a Chilean man charged with murdering his Japanese ex-girlfriend whose body has yet to be found in a case that gripped both France and Japan, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Nicolas Zepeda, 29, was extradited to France last July for questioning over the disappearance of Narumi Kurozaki, a 21-year-old student who vanished from her university in Besancon, near the French Alps, in December 2016.

Zepeda has denied any involvement in her disappearance and even told investigators he was "convinced that she is still alive", according to the Besancon public prosecutor, Etienne Manteaux.

He admitted to having spent part of the night of December 4, 2016, in her room on campus, and claimed that she was alive and well when he left.

Zepeda was extradited to France last year
Zepeda was extradited to France last year AFP / Claudio REYES

But Manteaux said a wealth of evidence, including phone records, the geolocation of the suspect's rental car and credit card receipts as well as witness statements contradicted Zepeda's version of events.

Several students said they heard "screams of terror and shouting" that night, the prosecutor said, but nobody called the police.

Investigators are convinced she was killed by Zepeda in a jealous rage.

Kurosaki first met the Chilean teaching assistant in Japan. The couple later broke up, and then re-connected shortly before her disappearance.

Zepeda, whose trial is expected to start in the autumn, faces life in prison if found guilty of murder.