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British banker charged with killing two women in Hong Kong

British banker charged with killing two women in Hong Kong
After being charged with two murders, Rurik George Caton Jutting leaves a Hong Kong court in a prison van on Nov. 3. (Lam Yik Fei / Bloomberg)

Hong Kong police Monday charged a British banker with killing two women, including an Indonesian woman whose body was found inside 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.

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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.

In a statement, police said the 29-year-old had called officers 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.

According to the police statement, officers rushed to the man's apartment, where they found a woman, age 25 to 30, with cuts to her neck and buttock. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

While investigating, the officers 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.

A charge sheet said a woman named Sumarti Ningsih was killed Oct. 27, which indicates she was the woman whose body was found in the suitcase. The other woman's name was unknown.

Indonesian Consulate spokeswoman Sam Aryadi confirmed that Sumarti was Indonesian. Eni Lestari, an advisor with the Assn. of Indonesian Migrant Workers in Hong Kong, indicated that the second woman was also 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, the two murder charges were read to Jutting, who was wearing black pants and a black T-shirt with "New York" and "Champions" written on it. When asked if he understood the charges, he said "I do" in a calm voice. He was remanded into custody until Nov. 10.

Police said they seized a knife at the apartment, located in Hong Kong's upscale J Residence building, a 40-story apartment tower.

Jutting is a University of Cambridge graduate who had been working 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, one of Asia's biggest financial hubs, is home to many foreign residents who work as bankers, lawyers, accountants and teachers.

The 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 her husband, Robert Kissel, who coincidentally also worked at Merrill Lynch, which was later bought by Bank of America.

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