By Tony Wall

Auckland police hope a man they want to interview in connection with the murder of Japanese tourist Kayo Matsuzawa a year ago will trigger an airport alert if he tries to cross another border.

The man - a Russian who earned the nickname KGB at the Auckland backpackers' hostel where Miss Matsuzawa stayed - left the country the day after her body was discovered, and has yet to be spoken to by police.

Miss Matsuzawa, a 29-year-old waitress on a working holiday in Christchurch, disappeared soon after arriving at Queen St Backpackers for a short sightseeing tour on September 11 last year.

Her naked, decaying body was found locked in a fire-alarm cupboard in the Centrecourt building in Queen St 10 days later.

The case presented Auckland detectives with one of their most difficult whodunits because of a lack of forensic evidence.

The 10-day delay in finding the body gave the killer plenty of time to cover his tracks and prevented a pathologist from being able to pinpoint a cause of death.

Inquiries by the New Zealand Herald have revealed that the Russian man, travelling on a New Zealand passport, had stayed at the backpackers hostel for six months, but left suddenly for Australia the day after the body was found.

The manager of the hostel, Ken Ho, said the Russian, aged around 50, acted strangely and was called KGB by other backpackers because he wanted to know all about them.

Mr Ho considered the big, strong man to be "dodgy" because he spent a lot of time hanging around the hostel.

The officer in charge of the case, Detective Senior Sergeant Kevin Baker, said police had spent a lot of time profiling the man and wanted to speak to him about some "circumstantial evidence."

His movements were vague, and it was hoped he would be located when he crossed the border of a country in which airport alerts had been issued.

The man was one of about a dozen who had been profiled, the detective said.

Police had spoken to about 40 backpackers overseas and eliminated most of them from the inquiry.

Detective Senior Sergeant Baker said he was about to write to Miss Matsuzawa's family in Japan, updating them on the inquiry and returning items of her property.