HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong police charged a British banker on Monday with killing two women, including an Indonesian whose body was found in a suitcase on the balcony of the man’s upscale apartment, authorities said.
The killings have shocked Hong Kong, an Asian financial hub with a reputation as a safe city with a low rate of violent crime. Rurik George Caton Jutting appeared briefly at a preliminary hearing at which he spoke only to confirm that he understood the two murder charges against him.
Police earlier said Jutting, 29, had called them to his apartment in Hong Kong’s Wan Chai nightlife and red light district at 3:42 a.m. on Saturday. Court documents listed his nationality as British and his occupation as a “banker of Bank of America.” Jutting worked for the bank until recently, Bank of America Merrill Lynch spokesman Paul Scanlon said Sunday, without providing more details.
According to a police statement, officers rushed to the man’s apartment, where they found an unresponsive woman, aged 25-30, with cuts to her neck and buttock. She was pronounced dead at the scene. While investigating, police found a suitcase on the balcony containing the body of a dead woman who had sustained neck injuries and had died a few days earlier, police said.
Police also seized a knife from the 31st floor apartment in the upscale J Residence tower. A charge sheet said a woman named Sumarti Ningsih was killed Oct. 27, indicating she was the woman whose body was found in the suitcase. It said the other person was an “unknown female.”
Indonesian Consulate spokeswoman Sam Aryadi said Sumarti came from the city of Cilacap in Central Java. He said the consulate was working with Hong Kong police to find out more about the second victim. Local media reports and Eni Lestari, an adviser with the Association of Indonesian Migrant Workers in Hong Kong, also indicated that the second woman was Indonesian.
“We are now trying to locate those victims’ families and we’re trying to let the families and relatives know about this very sad situation,” said Aryadi, who added that records showed Sumarti entered Hong Kong with a tourist visa on Oct. 4 and was given permission to stay until Nov. 3.
During the brief court appearance at Eastern Magistrates’ Court, the two murder charges were read to Jutting, who had thick stubble and wore black pants and a black T-shirt with “New York” and “Champions” written on it. When asked if he understood each charge, he said “I do” twice in a calm voice. The judge granted his request to be remanded to prison detention rather than police custody. The reason for the request was unclear.
Martyn Richmond, a temporary lawyer assigned to Jutting, complained that police refused to let him contact a lawyer of his choice or the British Consulate while in custody. He added that if Jutting’s requests were granted, he “may well co-operate” with a police reconstruction at the crime scene.
The case was adjourned until Nov. 10. Jutting is a graduate of Cambridge University, where he rowed for the Peterhouse College Boat Club and was secretary of the university’s history society. He worked in structured equity finance and trading for Bank of America Merrill Lynch in Hong Kong since July 2013 and before that in London for about three years, according to a listing on LinkedIn. Prior to that he worked for Barclays.
Hong Kong, a former British colony that is one of Asia’s biggest financial hubs, is home to many foreign residents who work as bankers, lawyers, accountants and teachers. The southern Chinese city hasn’t seen such a high-profile case involving a foreign resident since the “Milkshake Murder” case in 2003, in which American expatriate housewife Nancy Kissel was convicted of bludgeoning her high-flying banker husband to death after giving him a strawberry milkshake laced with a sedative. Kissel is serving a life sentence for killing Robert Kissel, who also worked at Merrill Lynch, which was later bought by Bank of America.