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British banker Rurik Jutting appeals life term for gruesome killings

A British banker jailed for life for the gruesome murders of two women has appeared in court to appeal against his conviction.

Rurik Jutting was found guilty in November 2016 of killing Indonesians Sumarti Ningsih, 23, and Seneng Mujiasih, 26, in Hong Kong apartment in 2014.

His lawyer Gerard McCoy told the city’s Court of Appeal that the trial judge had made a “fatal error” in his directions to the jurors on whether Jutting’s psychiatric disorders constituted a mental abnormality.

Under Hong Kong law, an “abnormality of mind” can be used as a defence against a murder conviction.

Armed police stand guard as Rurik Jutting arrives at a courthouse
Armed police stand guard as Jutting arrives at a courthouse

Jutting’s team also argued the trial judge made a mistake by instructing jurors to come up with the same verdict for both counts, despite the different circumstances of the two deaths.

The Cambridge-educated 32-year-old had met Ms Sumarti through the “casual encounters” section of the Craigslist website. Her body was found in a suitcase on his balcony.

He met his second victim in a Hong Kong bar. Ms Seneng’s body was found in a pool of blood on Jutting’s living room floor, and her throat had also been cut.

Jutting denied murdering the two women and admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility due to alcohol and drug abuse and sexual disorders.

Sumarti Ningsih and Seneng Mujiasih
Sumarti Ningsih and Seneng Mujiasih

But the jury rejected the claim and unanimously found the former Bank of America-Merrill Lynch employee guilty of murder.

Jutting wore a blue shirt as he watched the latest proceedings from the dock, and chatted with the three uniformed court officers sitting next to him during the breaks.

He leafed through a bundle of court documents and listened as lawyers made the case to the three-judge panel that the trial judge gave incorrect instructions to the jury on deciding their verdict.

The jury in the original trial heard that the bodies of Ms Seneng and Ms Sumarti were mutilated, with Jutting describing how he tortured and killed them in a series of videos recorded on his phone.

In one video played in court, he said: “My name is Rurik Jutting. About five minutes ago, I just killed, murdered, this woman here.”

The camera panned down briefly to show the body of Ms Sumarti lying face down on his bathroom floor.

Ms Seneng and Ms Sumarti came to Hong Kong to work as foreign maids but ended up as sex workers.

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