British banker Rurik Jutting pleaded “not guilty” to two charges of murder Monday as he stood trial for the killings of two Indonesian women who were found in his upscale Hong Kong apartment.
On the first day of what is Hong Kong’s biggest murder case for years, Jutting, 31, entered his official plea for the first time at the city’s High Court.
“Not guilty to murder by reason of diminished responsibility, but guilty to manslaughter,” a calm Jutting said when entering his plea for the two murder charges.
Clean-shaven and wearing a dark-blue shirt, he pleaded guilty to a third charge of preventing the burial of a body.
The former Bank of America Merrill Lynch employee faces a three-week jury trial and would face life in prison if convicted on the murder charges.
Seneng Mujiasih and Sumarti Ningsih, both in their 20s, were found dead in Jutting’s flat in the early hours of November 1, 2014, after he called police to the scene.
The killings shocked the city of seven million — typically regarded as safe and known for its glitzy skyscrapers — and shone a spotlight on the seedy underbelly of the financial hub.
Jutting was deemed fit to stand trial following psychiatric tests and is being held at a maximum security prison.
The high-flying Cambridge graduate previously worked as a securities trader in Hong Kong.
Outside the court, a small group of protesters from Indonesian migrant worker organisations called for a “speedy and fair trial” and for compensation for the victims’ families.
It is the highest-profile murder case to hit the Hong Kong courts since American Nancy Kissel was accused of killing her banker husband in 2003.
Dubbed the “milkshake murderer”, Kissel was convicted of drugging her husband — a senior executive at Merrill Lynch — with a sedative-laced strawberry drink before clubbing him to death with a lead ornament at their luxury home.
Kissel, 51, is serving a life sentence at Hong Kong’s high-security Tai Lam Centre for Women.
She launched a fresh bid in July this year to reduce her sentence.