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No foul play involved in U.S. researcher's death in Singapore: verdict


13:25, July 08, 2013

SINGAPORE, July 8 (Xinhua) -- A state coroner ruled Monday that U.S. researcher Shane Todd, whose death in Singapore last year made international headlines, committed suicide, with no foul play involved.

State Cononer Chay Yuen Fatt said in a 145-page verdict he accepted that the cause of Todd's death was asphyxia by hanging.

"After considering all the evidence before me, I was also satisfied that there was no foul play involved in the deceased's death," he said.

The judge also noted that Todd had suicidal tendency and that there was no reason to doubt the authenticity of Todd's suicide note.

There was no evidence, either, to suggest that the researcher had been involved with any sensitive research as part of his work at the Institute of Microelectronics (IME), a unit of Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology and Research.

Todd's family was not in court on Monday, but lawyers who once represented the family during the coroner's inquiry were present.

Todd, 31, came to Singapore for his first job after getting his doctor's degree in the United States. He was found hanging from the bathroom door his in apartment on the second floor of a shophouse in downtown Singapore on June 24, 2012, with suicide notes and letters found on his computer.

Singapore police concluded after an investigation that Todd committed suicide. His parents, however, insisted that it was impossible for their son to take his own life and suspected foul play.

They alleged that their son lost his life over a research collaboration between the Institute of Microelectronics and Chinese telecommunications equipment giant Huawei Technologies Co. ltd.

Huawei, which has been locked out of the U.S. market due to " national security fears," said that the alleged collaboration did not even materialize.

The death of Todd made headlines after his parents sought help from the Financial Times, which carried a lengthy report presenting the conspiracy theories and questions put forward by the Todds.

The parents also sought help from U.S. lawmakers who jumped to put pressure on Singapore, even asking for the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation to supervise the probe in Singapore.

The coroner's inquiry began on May 21 this year, with dozens of witnesses lined up to take the stand, including forensic experts, police officers, and Todd's girl friend, neighbor and former colleagues.

The court heard that Todd had been suffering from depression in the months before his death and that there are signs that Todd visited suicide websites. The former colleagues and the police officers also refuted the family's claim that Todd was involved in sensitive technology transfer.

The Todds stormed out of the court on May 21, after a key witness who produced a report commissioned by the family partly retracted his opinion that Todd had been murdered by garroting.

The witness, a medical examiner who admitted that he was not a certified forensic pathologist, said he changed his opinion after reviewing new evidences, but nevertheless insisted that Todd had been murdered.

At least four other reports by forensic experts from both Singapore and the United States, however, said they believe Todd took his own life, as no internal injury or signs of foul play were found.

Lawyers for the state have emphasized that they have done their best to look into all claims made by Todd's family, in response to Todd's parents questioning whether police investigations had been carried out properly.

The Singaporean government said it was regrettable that the Todds walked out of the court proceedings but the coroner's inquiry continued despite their absence.

Singapore's Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Law K. Shanmugam said it is "for the world to look at and judge for itself" whether the judicial system in Singapore is credible.

The family has said that they intended to push for an investigation by the U.S. Congress.

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Email|Print|Comments(Editor:LiangJun、Yao Chun)

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