British double murderer appeals Hong Kong conviction

In this file picture taken on May 8, 2015, British banker Rurik Jutting (2nd L), accused of the murders of two Indonesian women, sits in a prison van as he arrives at the eastern court in Hong Kong. A British banker jailed for life for the horrifying 2014 murder of two Indonesian women at his upscale Hong Kong apartment in a cocaine-fueled rampage is to make an appeal bid on Dec. 12, 2017. (AFP/Anthony Wallace)
Updated 12 December 2017
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British double murderer appeals Hong Kong conviction

HONG KONG: A British banker jailed for life for the horrifying murder of two Indonesian women at his upscale Hong Kong apartment in a cocaine-fueled rampage appealed against his conviction Tuesday.
Cambridge University graduate Rurik Jutting tortured Sumarti Ningsih for three days — filming parts of her ordeal on his phone — before slashing her throat with a serrated knife and stuffing her body into a suitcase.
Days later, and with Ningsih’s corpse on his balcony, the former Bank of America worker picked up Seneng Mujiasih, intending to play out the same fantasies. He killed her when she started screaming.
Jutting, now 32, had pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility but was found guilty of murder in what the judge at the time described as killings that were “sickening in the extreme.”
However, Jutting’s defense team Tuesday argued that judge Michael Stuart-Moore had repeatedly given wrong directions to the jury during the trial last year when explaining how they should determine whether his state of mind had impaired his responsibility for his actions.
Defense lawyer Gerard McCoy argued the judge had wrongly told the jury to look for mental “disorders” rather than the broader spectrum of “abnormality of the mind.”
“Abnormality of mind need not be a disorder,” McCoy told the court Tuesday.
“The judge has wrongly and prescriptively directed the jury that they should look for disorders because disorders are what is an abnormality of mind,” he added.
The defense team during the trial had argued that Jutting’s mental responsibility had been substantially affected by heavy alcohol and cocaine use as well as sexual sadism and narcissistic personality disorders.
Not all four experts who testified agreed that Jutting’s behavior met the criteria for a “disorder” in all four areas, said McCoy.
However, they did all find that Jutting was suffering from an abnormality of mind because he had impaired mental functioning, he added.
Jutting was alert and taking notes in court Tuesday, dressed in a blue shirt and wearing dark-rimmed glasses, at one point smiling and talking with the guards in the dock.
In the gruelling 10-day trial last October and November, the jury heard how Jutting became obsessed with slavery, rape and torture — fantasies he acted out on his first victim, Ningsih.
The jury was forced to watch iPhone footage of parts of the attack as well as Jutting’s own self-recorded descriptions of how he had used pliers, sex toys and a belt during the killing.
He then went on to murder his second victim, Mujiasih, slashing her throat in his living room.
At the end of the trial, Stuart-Moore said Jutting had known what he was doing and described him as an “archetypal sexual predator” who presented an extreme danger to women.
The hearing continued Tuesday.


Arab refugees in sights of Berlin’s crime ‘clans’

Updated 18 December 2018
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Arab refugees in sights of Berlin’s crime ‘clans’

  • Berlin crime gangs of Arab origin have long earned infamy with violence and brazen robberies
  • Police warn they have targeted a new generation of refugees for recruitment

BERLIN: Berlin crime gangs of Arab origin have long earned infamy with violence and brazen robberies but now, police warn, they have targeted a new generation of refugees for recruitment.
Known in the media as Berlin’s “clans,” whose founders themselves fled war in Lebanon in the 1980s, they have long controlled much of the city’s illegal drugs trade, street prostitution and protection rackets.
While East European and Asian organized crime and homegrown biker gangs are also active, the clans have been especially visible, given many members’ love of gangster bling and muscle cars.
The dozen or so Arabic and Kurdish-origin extended families, with their patriarchal structures and codes of honor, have also been mythologized by rap artists and portrayed in the TV series “4 Blocks.”
Now police warn that the clans have sought out new members from among the over one million asylum-seekers who have arrived in Germany since mid-2015, half of them from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
The clans “are trying to get others to do the dirty work” such as selling drugs or committing small burglaries, said Benjamin Jendro of the GDP police union.
Many refugees, he said, are “men who have arrived alone in Germany” and who “have not yet had to do with the justice system,” making it less likely they will go to prison if caught.
An undercover police investigator also told Die Welt newspaper that “above all, it is the young, physically strong men who are in the sights of the clans, who make them do the dirty work.”


The migrant wave that peaked three years ago sparked a xenophobic backlash in Germany, and stoked heated debate about integration efforts and crimes committed by foreigners.
This has thrown a new focus on the clans and raised questions about how Berlin’s police could let them openly flout the law for so long in a generally fairly low-crime country.
Germany’s best-known rapper, Bushido, long boasted about his close ties to one Berlin clan — until they had a falling out this year and he sought the protection of a rival group.
Bushido’s wife, Anna-Maria Ferchichi, told news weekly Stern that the couple now feared for their lives from gangsters who had formed “parallel societies right here in Germany.”
The clans’ latest show of force was the September 13 funeral of an infamous underworld figure, when 2,000 mourners congregated in the Islamic section of a Berlin cemetery, watched over by some 150 police.
In scenes Stern described as “worthy of a mafia movie,” they paid their last respects to Nidal Rabih, a 36-year-old violent repeat offender who had been shot dead in front of his family days earlier.
Rabih, a Palestinian born in Lebanon, had achieved cult status in the Berlin criminal underworld.
Boasting more than 100 offenses from robbery to attempted manslaughter, he had spent more than a decade behind bars but avoided a 2004 deportation attempt when Lebanon refused to issue him a passport.
Days after his death, Berlin municipal workers guarded by police whitewashed over a wall mural at the murder scene that depicted Rabih in the style of a martyred Islamic fighter.


Sociologists say the story of Berlin’s clans is a cautionary tale about failed integration.
Their patriarchs mostly arrived in the 1980s as refugees from then war-torn Lebanon, among them Palestinians and members of Turkey’s Arabic and Kurdish minorities.
Many had only temporary protection status and “did not have access here to education or work,” said Islamologist Mathias Rohe, arguing that this sped up the descent into delinquency.
The extended families, aside from now running large chunks of Berlin’s illegal economy, have also committed some of the city’s most headline-grabbing criminal stunts.
In 2010, masked men wielding machetes and guns robbed a poker tournament in the Berlin Grand Hyatt, making off with about 240,000 euros ($270,000).
In 2014, robbers rampaged through Berlin’s KaDeWe luxury department store, smashed glass displays and stole watches and jewelry worth 800,000 euros.
And last year, clan-linked bandits stole a 100-kilogramme (220-pound) Canadian commemorative gold coin worth over 3.75 million euros from Berlin’s Bode museum, around the corner from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s apartment.


Berlin’s police is now under fire for having long neglected the problem — something researcher Ralph Ghadban blames partially on a “fear of stigmatising and discriminating against certain minorities.”
In recent months, authorities have started to hit back by stepping up raids of shisha bars and betting shops, many in Berlin’s Neukoelln district, and confiscating expensive cars for speeding.
In August, police and prosecutors seized 77 properties worth 10 million euros, alleged to have mostly been bought with proceeds from a major 2014 bank robbery.
Some of the properties were officially owned by one convicted bank robber’s 19-year-old brother whose only declared income was state welfare.
The confiscations still have to stand up in court against challenges from the clan’s expensive lawyers, but authorities believe they have struck a first blow.
“We’re stepping on their toes,” said Berlin interior minister Andreas Geisel. “We’re spoiling their fun in Berlin.”