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A British banker accused of the grisly 2014 killings of two Indonesian women pleaded not guilty when he went on trial Monday in Hong Kong, in a case expected to highlight the Asian financial hub’s inequality and privileged lifestyle of its wealthy expat elite. Rurik Jutting entered a plea of not guilty to two murder charges that were read out at the High Court, with prosecutors rejecting his attempt to plead guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter.
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Jutting is charged with the murders of Sumarti Ningsih and Seneng Mujiasih, whose bodies were found in his upscale apartment near the Asian financial center’s Wan Chai red-light district.
Jutting, who wore a dark blue shirt, glasses and looked a lot slimmer than in his court appearances last year, was put into a glass-screened dock when he arrived in the court. When the clerk asked what his plea was to the two murder charge, he replied “not guilty to murder by reason of diminished responsibility but guilty of manslaughter,” which the prosecutors refused to accept, meaning the trial on the murder charges will proceed.
A third charge was also read out, unlawful burial of Sumarti Ningsih’s body, to which he pleaded guilty.
One of the women’s bodies was found stuffed in a suitcase left in a balcony while the other had knife wounds on the neck and buttock, according to initial police reports.
Jutting is a Cambridge University graduate who worked for Bank of America-Merrill Lynch in structured equity finance and trading. If convicted, he faces life in prison.
The case shocked the former British colony, which has a reputation for being safe, while also highlighting the city’s extreme inequality.
The victims had originally come to Hong Kong as foreign maids. But Seneng had let her domestic worker visa lapse and Sumarti had returned on a tourist visa.
They were among the more than 300,000 migrant domestic workers employed in Hong Kong, almost all of them women from Indonesia or the Philippines.