Jul 09, 2013

    Shane Todd committed suicide, court finds

    A SINGAPORE court has found that American research engineer Shane Todd had committed suicide, according to a report by The Straits Times online.

    State Coroner Chay Yuen Fatt, delivering his findings yesterday, said that physical evidence pointed to the 31-year-old's death as a suicide, as there was no sign of foul play and no medical basis to find that it was a homicide.

    "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 in a 145-page decision.

    He also said there was no reason to doubt the authenticity of a suicide note found on Dr Todd's laptop at the scene of death.

    There was no evidence to suggest that the researcher had been involved in any sensitive research as part of his work at the Singapore Institute of Microelectronics (IME), he said.

    "The deceased was not in possession of confidential and valuable classified information in the course of his employment at the IME," he added.

    Dr Todd was found hanged in his apartment near Chinatown on June 24 last year, shortly after he quit IME, part of the national Agency for Science, Technology and Research.

    His parents had alleged that he had been murdered over his work at IME, which they said had links to Huawei Technologies, a Chinese telecommunications giant suspected of espionage by the United States government.

    Senior State Counsel Tai Wei Shyong had earlier described the allegations of murder as "entirely misplaced and unfounded", saying there was no evidence of foul play, possible suspect or even credible motive for such an act.

    Instead, there was "overwhelming evidence pointing inexorably towards suicide".

    The coroner's ruling cannot be appealed against, but the public prosecutor may direct the coroner to reopen the inquiry if further investigations are necessary - for example, if there is significant new evidence.

    Dr Todd's family were not in court yesterday morning, but their lawyers and representatives from the US Embassy were present.

    In a statement yesterday, the US Embassy in Singapore said the inquiry had been "comprehensive, fair and transparent".

    Lawyers Gloria James-Civetta and Foo Cheow Ming told The Straits Times that the Todds have instructed them to send a copy of the state coroner's findings to them in the US.

    They will also be making arrangements for Dr Todd's belongings to be returned.

    At a press conference held several hours after the verdict, Law and Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam decried the murder conspiracy theory and said it was based on "untruths, pure fantasy and pure imagination".