A 36-year-old man has denied murdering primary school teacher Sabina Nessa during a three minute magistrates court hearing.
Wearing a blue mask and grey tracksuit, Koci Selamaj spoke only to confirm his name, address and date of birth at the hearing at Willesden Magistrates’ Court.
Flanked by two dock officers the former pizza delivery driver from East Sussex showed no emotion as he looked around the packed court room as a single charge of murder was read out by the clerk.
The Albanian national is accused of killing Miss Nessa, 28, in Cator Park, in Kidbrooke, southeast London, on September 17.
Her body was found hidden under some leaves in the park the following day by a dog walker.
Mr Selamaj, who had thinning hair, spoke clearly as he confirmed his name, his address on Terminus Road, Eastbourne, before stating his May 1985 date of birth.
Miss Umaima Peracha, prosecuting, requested the case be sent to the Old Bailey where Mr Selamaj will be provided with an interpreter, something the court heard he did not require on Tuesday because his “English was sufficient”.
District Judge Denis Brennan remanded Mr Selamaj in custody. He will appear at the Old Bailey in London for a bail hearing on Thursday. Then, he will appear on October 26 for a plea hearing.
However, the judge asked Aidan Harvey, Mr Selamaj’s lawyer, for an “indication of plea” regarding the single charge.
Mr Harvey replied: “I have indicated on the form – it’s a not guilty plea,” he said.
Mr Selamaj was arrested in Eastbourne in the early hours of Sunday.
CCTV footage of a suspect was released by the Metropolitan Police Service last week.
Miss Nessa, who was a Year One teacher at Rushey Green Primary School in Catford, is thought to have been attacked as she left her flat at around 8.30pm on Sept 17 to visit a local bar where she was due to meet a friend.
Her body was discovered at around 5.30pm the following day in Cator Park hidden under some leaves.
On Friday, hundreds of people – including her sister – gathered for a candlelit vigil organised in Pegler Square, Kidbrooke, in her memory.
Hundreds gathered in Kidbrooke on Friday for a vigil following the death of Sabina Nessa
Credit: Rob Pinney/Getty Images
Jebina Yasmin Islam, Ms Nessa’s sister, broke down as she addressed crowds.
She said: “Words cannot describe how we are feeling, this feels like we are stuck in a bad dream and can’t get out of it – our world is shattered, we are simply lost for words.
“No family should go through what we are going through.”