HONG KONG - British banker Rurik Jutting appeared before a packed courtroom in Hong Kong Thursday accused of the murder of two young Indonesian women whose mutilated bodies were found in his apartment.
Wearing the same black T-shirt and dark-rimmed glasses as in previous hearings, Jutting, 30, returned to magistrates' court after being deemed fit to stand trial in November following psychiatric tests.
The former Merrill Lynch Bank of America employee faces life in prison if he is convicted of the murder charges.
But the case was adjourned until May 8 after the prosecution asked for more time.
One-time securities trader Jutting, who has not yet entered a plea in the case, was attentive but looked tired. He spoke twice to say: "I do" when asked whether he understood the two charges against him.
Seneng Mujiasih and Sumarti Ningsih, both in their 20s, were found dead in Jutting's upmarket flat in the early hours of November 1 after he called police.
Mujiasih was found in the living room, naked and with knife wounds to her legs and buttocks. The decaying body of Ningsih was found hours later in a suitcase on the balcony.
High-flying Cambridge graduate Jutting is being held at Hong Kong's maximum security Siu Lam psychiatric prison - a walled hilltop compound on the outskirts of Hong Kong.
Defence counsel Tim Parker accused the prosecution of "yo-yo-ing" for initially saying that they would need until July to present a case, then coming back to court, only to delay once more.
"It was an unnecessary waste of cost... My client was forced to come here," said Parker, who added that the prosecution had sent the defence its committal papers - the case documents - too late.
Magistrate Jason Wan turned down an application for costs, saying that it was "not unusual" for a complex case to take time.
Once all the evidence is submitted, after being reviewed by both sides, the magistrate will commit the case to the High Court, which handles murder cases and where an official plea must be entered.
In a city generally regarded as safe by residents and known for its high-end shops and glitzy skyscrapers, the killings were unusually brutal and shone a spotlight on the seedy underbelly of the finance hub.
Police have said they were investigating whether the two women were sex workers after cocaine and sex toys were found in the apartment, just a few streets away from Hong Kong's red-light district, where Jutting was reportedly a regular.
But their distraught parents told AFP they believed their children had been working at restaurants.
Mujiasih had entered the city on a domestic worker visa in 2010, but that had lapsed in 2012, while Ningsih came in on a tourist visa in October last year.