SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Association) – A 29-year-old British man accused of murdering two women in Hong Kong has been remanded in custody.
Rurik Jutting was arrested after police found the victims in his apartment in the Wan Chai area early on Saturday. One of the bodies was in a suitcase on his balcony.
The women, who have not been officially named by police, are believed to be sex workers of Indonesian origin.
Mr Jutting appeared before the Eastern Magistrates’ Court on Monday morning.
He had resigned from a job at Bank of America Merrill Lynch a week ago. A LinkedIn profile under his name suggested he was a Cambridge University graduate.
Mr Jutting was unshaven and wearing a black T-shirt during the brief court hearing.
Asked if he understood the charges against him, he replied: “I do.”
He was remanded in custody and is due to appear in court again on 10 November.
Officers were called to the luxury residential building where Mr Jutting lived at 03:42 on Saturday (19:42 Friday GMT).
One of the victims, who was aged between 25 and 30, had wounds to her neck and buttock. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
The body of the other woman, who had sustained neck injuries, was found in the suitcase.
Hong Kong Police said they had retrieved a knife from the apartment in the J Residence block, which is situated in an affluent area and popular with professional people working in the financial sector.
Assistant district commander Wan Siu-hung told reporters that the woman whose body was in the suitcase had been dead “for quite some time” and had neck injuries.
Speaking about the other dead woman – who had stab wounds to her neck and buttocks – he said: “We believe the death was caused by a sharp object which cut the throat of the deceased.
“When police found her she was lying in the living room – the room was messy.”
Hong Kong police load evidence bags into vans as the investigation continues
The BBC’s Hong Kong correspondent Juliana Liu reported that the two victims were Indonesian and known as Jesse and Alice.
Both were well known in the Wan Chai entertainment district, our correspondent said.
Bar manager Robert van den Bosch had known both women for more than four years. He said about two dozen police had visited bars and nightclubs in the area on Saturday in an effort to identify the women.
Of “Jesse”, Mr van den Bosch told the BBC: “That’s the thing that we ask ourselves, why and why her?
“If she was just a crazy woman and fighting you could understand, but I have no idea why, because she was always happy.”
The South China Morning Post reported that police had found a small amount of cocaine in the apartment and that they were examining Mr Jutting’s mobile phone.
A resident of the 40-storey block, who said his fellow occupants were mainly expats, told the newspaper: “It was a shock because you would never expect something like this to happen in Hong Kong.”
At the scene: Juliana Liu, BBC Hong Kong correspondent
The city has not seen a murder mystery like this since 2003, when American housewife Nancy Kissel killed her husband, an investment banker, with a lead ornament.
Coincidentally, Robert Kissel was also working for Merrill Lynch, the forerunner of Bank of America Merrill Lynch, which employed Rurik Jutting until about a week ago.
According to colleagues, the British banker regularly partied well into the morning hours.
But they have expressed shock that he has been charged with the murder of two sex workers from Indonesia, saying that he had seemed so ‘normal’.
The bar girls of Wan Chai, where Mr Jutting lives, are equally shocked.
While sex work, by definition, comes with risks, it is perceived to be less risky in a relatively safe city like Hong Kong.
A spokesperson for the UK Foreign Office said: “We can confirm that a British national has been arrested in Hong Kong.
“We are in touch with the local police and stand ready to provide consular assistance.”
Post-mortem examinations are being conducted to determine the causes of the women’s deaths.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch has yet to respond to BBC requests for information about Mr Jutting.
Historically Hong Kong has enjoyed a relatively low crime rate. According to the Hong Kong Police website, there have been 14 homicides between January and July, down from 56 over the same time period in 2013.