HONG KONG – A British banker accused of killing two Indonesian women in his Hong Kong apartment had tortured one of the victims for three days while using cocaine, a prosecutor said at the opening of his murder trial Monday.
The women's murders and the banker's arrest in 2014 shocked the city, which has a reputation for being safe but also has extreme inequality among its foreign workers. The Asian financial center and former British colony has a sizable white-collar expatriate elite alongside more than 300,000 migrant domestic workers, almost all of them women from Indonesia or the Philippines.
The defendant, Cambridge University graduate Rurik Jutting, had worked at the Hong Kong office of Bank of America-Merrill Lynch in structured equity finance and trading. The bodies of Sumarti Ningsih, 23 and Seneng Mujiasih, 26, were found in his upscale apartment near the Asian financial center's Wan Chai red-light district.
Jutting pleaded not guilty to two murder charges, with prosecutors rejecting his attempt to plead guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter. If convicted, he faces life in prison.
At the start of the trial, High Court Judge Michael Stuart-Moore warned jurors that evidence would include "extremely upsetting" photo and video evidence.
Sumarti went to Jutting's apartment when the banker offered her "a large sum of money," Prosecutor John Reading said in his opening remarks. Sumarti, who was in Hong Kong on a tourist visa, had a 5-year-old son living with her parents in Indonesia, he said.
Jutting subjected her to "increasingly cruel acts of violence," Reading said. "After torturing her for three days, he took her into the bathroom, had her kneel in front of the toilet bowl with her hands tied behind her back, made her lick the toilet bowl and then he cut her throat with a serrated-edged knife," he continued.
Jutting used his phone to film himself talking about the killing, how he enjoyed dominating Sumarti and how he watched pornographic videos involving extreme violence. He also said he "definitely could not have done that without cocaine." After she died, Jutting put her remains in a suitcase he left on the balcony.
Seneng was officially in Hong Kong as a foreign maid but was working at a bar where Jutting met her and offered her money for sex, Reading said, according to facts agreed on by both sides. In the banker's apartment, Seneng started shouting when she saw a rope gag near the sofa, and Jutting grabbed her and cut her throat with a knife hidden under a cushion, the prosecutor said.
Jutting apparently started hallucinating after using cocaine, and he called police himself. Officers who arrived found Seneng's body and arrested Jutting. Sumarti's remains were found a few hours later. In interviews, Jutting told police everything that happened as well as discussing his drug use, Reading said, adding that traces of cocaine were detected in more than two dozen small plastic bags found in the apartment.
Jutting watched the court proceedings intently and took notes from the glass-screened dock. He wore a dark blue shirt, dark-framed eyeglasses and looked much slimmer than in court appearances last year.
The trial continues Tuesday, when jurors are scheduled to view the graphic videos found on Jutting's iPhone.