Family slams Singapore 'suicide' inquest

2013-06-18 10:37
High-tech researcher, Shane Todd. (AFP)

High-tech researcher, Shane Todd. (AFP)

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Singapore - The family of an American scientist found hanged in Singapore last year dismissed on Tuesday the city-state's findings that he committed suicide as "a sham and a cover-up" for a murder.

"I am not surprised by the state's findings because the state refused to consider murder, they only investigated suicide," Mary Todd, mother of the late electronics engineer Shane Todd, told AFP by email from the United States.

The Singapore government, summing up its position after two weeks of public hearings in May, on Monday rejected the family's conspiracy theory, saying Todd killed himself in June 2012 in his own apartment after a bout of depression.

"If they had nothing to hide, they would not care one way or the other what happened to Shane. Sadly, the inquest was never an open, non-adversarial, fact-finding inquiry as promised but was a sham and a cover-up," the mother said.

The government's findings were presented to an independent coroner, whose verdict on the cause of death is scheduled to be handed down on 8 July.

Todd's family stormed out of the hearings on 21 May, saying they had "lost faith" in the proceedings.

But their chief Singaporean lawyer said the family was still considering whether to file a formal summary of its position to the coroner, whose verdict cannot be appealed against.

Garrotted with chord

In her message to AFP, Mary Todd repeated claims that her son's former employer, Singapore's state-linked Institute of Microelectronics (IME), was more closely involved with China's Huawei Technologies than stated at the hearings.

In earlier statements to the inquest, Todd's parents said that before he died, the researcher expressed fears that he was being made to compromise US national security in a secret project involving the two companies.

IME and Huawei say they only held preliminary talks on a potential commercial venture and reject the family's allegations they worked on a clandestine project involving Todd with military applications.

A US congressional committee last year labelled Huawei and ZTE, another Chinese telecom firm, as potential security threats that should be excluded from US government contracts and barred from acquiring US firms.

During the hearings, the Todd family's star witness, US pathologist Edward Adelstein, recanted an earlier theory that Todd was garrotted with a cord in his own apartment.

He presented a new theory: Todd was killed by assassins who used a stun gun before choking his neck and then hanging him to make it look like a suicide.

But Adelstein presented no evidence and two other US pathologists testified in support of Singapore police findings that Todd hanged himself from his bathroom door.

On Monday, lawyers for the Singapore government cited suicide notes left by Todd on his laptop computer, a psychiatrist's testimony that he suffered from depression, and a browsing history showing he accessed suicide websites.

They said the scientist's depression had likely worsened in the months before his death because he did not complete a prescribed course of anti-depressants or schedule follow-up appointments with his psychiatrist.

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