British banker in grisly HK double murder 'academically gifted'

British banker in grisly HK double murder 'academically gifted'

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 securities trader who until recently worked at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, had called police to his home in the Wanchai district in the early hours of Saturday.

Investigators found a naked woman with knife wounds to her neck and buttocks 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.

Police reportedly believe the victims were sex workers.

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.

Jutting, a Cambridge graduate, showed no emotion as he listened to the charges against him at a magistrate's court in Wanchai. He was taken to jail to await his next hearing on November 10.

Heavily-built and bearded, he wore a black T-shirt and dark-rimmed glasses in court. He spoke only twice to confirm he understood the charges against him before police escorted him from the packed courtroom.

'Academically gifted'

Jutting was a pupil at the exclusive English boarding school Winchester College before studying history and law at Cambridge University, with former classmates saying he excelled academically.

"He seemed like a normal guy, although he kept pretty much to himself," said one former Cambridge acquaintance.

"The thing that stood out about him was that he was academically extremely talented," she added, describing him as "very, very ambitious".

Classmates also said he was intensely athletic and had been a member of the prestigious rowing club at Cambridge.

"He was a tough guy. He had a rower mentality of pushing himself," said one former Winchester pupil. "A classic banker, I guess." Another Winchester classmate described him as "clever but socially awkward".

Police were scouring thousands of photographs stored on Jutting's mobile phone, including some showing one of the corpses wrapped in a carpet inside a suitcase on the balcony, the South China Morning Post reported.

Jutting is believed to have recently quit his job at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

"We had an employee by that name but he recently left the firm," a company spokesman told AFP, declining to say whether Jutting resigned or had been sacked.

The banker posted on his Facebook page last week that he was embarking on a "new journey".

"Stepping down from the ledge. Burden lifted; new journey begins. Scared and anxious but also excited. The first step is always the hardest," he wrote on Monday.

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