British banker charged with murder of two women in Hong Kong

British banker charged with murder of two women in Hong Kong
Rurik Jutting (left), 29, has been charged for the murder of two women in his apartment in Wan Chai district in Hong Kong.

HONG KONG - A British banker appeared in a Hong Kong court on Monday charged with the grisly murder of two women whose bodies were found in his upmarket apartment, one of them decomposing in a suitcase.

Rurik Jutting, a 29-year-old former securities trader at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, was charged with two counts of murder and was remanded in custody to appear in court again on November 10.

Jutting had called police to his home in Hong Kong's central Wanchai district in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Investigators found a naked woman with knife wounds to her neck and buttock in the living room of the flat, on the 31st floor of a plush residential block. The corpse of the other woman was discovered decaying inside a suitcase on the balcony.

Court documents named one of the victims as Sumarti Ningsih, listing the other as an unknown female. At least one of the women was Indonesian, the government in Jakarta said.

Police reportedly believe the victims were sex workers.

Jutting, a Cambridge graduate, appeared calm as he appeared in court, wearing a black t-shirt and dark-rimmed glasses.

The bearded banker spoke only twice to confirm he understood the charges.

A spokesman for Bank of America Merrill Lynch told Reuters on Sunday that the US bank had, until recently, an employee with the same name as Jutting's.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch would not give more details nor clarify when Jutting had left the bank. It did not respond to a request for further comment on Monday.

Media described the two victims as prostitutes and said both had neck injuries, adding one was nearly decapitated. One of the women was Indonesian, the South China Morning Post newspaper reported.

The grisly murders have shocked Hong Kong, a city with a low homicide rate.

While one of the victims had been put in the suitcase on the balcony, the other had been found lying inside the apartment with wounds to her neck and buttocks, police have previously said.

Jutting had called police and asked them to investigate the case, police have said.

Britain's Foreign Office in London said on Saturday a British national had been arrested in Hong Kong, without specifying the nature of any suspected crime.

Shock in Hong Kong

A Linkedin account under Jutting's name said he had worked in structured equity finance and trading at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in Hong Kong since July 2013. Before that, he had worked in the same department but in London.

The profile also said Jutting had worked in structured capital markets at Barclays between June 2008 and July 2010 and had studied at Cambridge University.

A spokesman for Barclays in Hong Kong said the bank was not immediately able to confirm if Jutting had worked for them in London.

The apartment where the bodies were found is on the 31st floor in a building popular with financial professionals, where average rents are about HK$30,000 (nearly S$4,981) a month.

"It's very shocking because we never expected something like this to happen in Hong Kong, especially in the same building that I'm living in," said banker Mina Liu.

Another woman who lives down the corridor from the flat where the bodies were found said she had seldom seen anyone come and go from the apartment.

Wan Chai has been a popular haunt for foreign navies on rest and recreation over the decades.

There were 14 homicides in Hong Kong, a city of seven million people, between January and June, down from 56 in the same period last year, according to government crime statistics.

In one of Hong Kong's most talked-about killings, the so-called "milkshake murder", a Merrill Lynch banker was clubbed to death in 2003 by his wife, who drugged him beforehand by serving him a milkshake full of sleeping pills.

 

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