Tue, Nov 25, 2014 - Page 1 News List

British banker is declared fit to stand trial for two murders in Hong Kong

AFP, HONG KONG

Rurik Jutting, a British banker charged with two counts of murder, sits in the back row of a prison bus as he arrives at the Eastern Law Courts in Hong Kong yesterday.

Photo: Reuters

A British banker accused of killing two Indonesian women was yesterday ruled fit to stand trial, but the case will be delayed for seven months for analysis of forensic evidence found with the victims’ mutilated bodies in his Hong Kong apartment.

Magistrate Bina Chainrai said Rurik Jutting, a former Bank of America Merrill Lynch employee, was mentally fit to face murder charges after two weeks of examination at the maximum security Siu Lam psychiatric center.

The 29-year-old was charged with the murders of Seneng Mujiasih and Sumarti Ningsih after police found the bodies of the two women in his upmarket apartment, one of them decomposing in a suitcase.

In a surprise decision, Chainrai agreed to the prosecution’s request to delay the trial until July 6 while investigators comb through hundreds of pieces of evidence.

Dressed in the same black T-shirt he had worn when he last appeared in court two weeks ago, Jutting stood impassively in the dock as the magistrate made her ruling in a packed, but silent courtroom. He faces life in prison if convicted of the killings.

Prosecutor Louise Wong told the court that investigators would need 28 weeks to examine about 200 pieces of evidence, including conducting DNA tests.

“We are waiting for the chemists,” Wong said outside the courtroom.

The former high-flying securities trader is to remain in custody while the forensic tests are carried out.

Ningsih’s father, Ahmad Kaliman, 59, said in Indonesia that he was “very disappointed” with the court’s decision to delay the trial.

“The pain I feel as a father whose daughter was killed in such a brutal way is indescribable,” he said. “Why did the court in Hong Kong delay the trial for such a long time? I want him to be sentenced quickly. I’m very disappointed.”

The bodies of the two women were discovered after Jutting called police to his apartment in the territory’s Wan Chai district in the early hours of Nov. 1.

Mujiasih was found naked in the living room, with knife wounds on her neck and buttocks. Ningsih’s decaying body was found hours later by police, stuffed into a suitcase on the balcony.

Police are investigating whether the two victims were sex workers, after cocaine and sex toys were found at the crime scene.

Hong Kong-based lawyer Albert Luk said it was “not common... but reasonable” for investigations to take so long in such a complex case.

“It may give an impression that it’s unfair for the defendant because he will be in jail without being convicted, but... murder is the most serious type of crime,” Luk said.

Acquaintances described Jutting, a University of Cambridge graduate and former securities trader, as a “very, very ambitious” and a “classic banker,” who pushed himself both academically and athletically.

He was also reported to be a regular in the red-light district just a few streets away from his apartment.

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