Asia

Singapore coroner rules Shane Todd death suicide

File photo: Shane Todd
Image caption Mr Todd worked as an electrical engineer in Singapore

A US engineer found hanged in his Singapore apartment killed himself, a Singapore coroner has ruled.

Shane Todd, 31, who had been working for a government research body, was found dead at his home in June 2012.

His death was registered as suicide, but his parents alleged he was killed over a project related to sensitive technology.

The coroner ruled that "there was no foul play". The US has described the inquiry as "fair and transparent".

Mr Todd died of "asphyxia due to hanging", the inquest concluded.

The verdict in the case - which attracted considerable attention after Mr Todd's parents contested police findings and campaigned for an investigation - is final and cannot be appealed against.

Suicide websites

Mr Todd had just left a job at a state-owned research organisation, Singapore Institute of Microelectronics (IME), at the time of his death.

His parents alleged he was working on a project linked to China's telecoms giant, Huawei, involving sensitive semiconductor technology, and that his death was the result of foul play linked to the project.

Both Mr Todd's former employer and Huawei - last year named a potential national security threat by a US Congressional committee because of fears over links to China's government and military - rejected this, saying they had been involved in preliminary talks on a project that did not get off the ground.

The court also said that the project had not materialised.

"Even if it did, which I did not find, the listed specifications show it would not have violated general export control laws, nor could it have been used for military applications," District Judge Chay Yuen Fatt said.

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

Instead the coroner found that the evidence showed "beyond a reasonable doubt" that Mr Todd had killed himself.

Mr Todd, who had suffered from depression in the past, had been described by witnesses as being under considerable stress in the weeks leading up to his death.

Image caption Shane Todd's parents said they lost confidence in the investigation

The coroner's inquiry, which convened in May, heard that in the days before he was found dead analysis of his computer showed he had visited a number of websites on suicide.

The Todd family's key witness, a deputy medical examiner from Missouri in the US, also faced stringent questioning during the inquiry that saw him revise his position that Shane Todd could have been garrotted.

He maintained that the 31-year-old was probably killed - putting him at odds with four other experts, two Singaporean and two from the US, who concluded suicide was most likely cause of death.

In a statement, the US embassy said: "The inquiry into Dr Todd's death was comprehensive, fair and transparent."

His family "was given the opportunity to participate in the hearing and was represented by experienced Singapore legal counsel", the statement added.

Mr Todd's parents withdrew their support for the Singapore probe in May, saying they had no confidence in the investigation. They were not present in court for the verdict.

"It was apparent that the state was only interested in proving suicide and that was why we left," Rick Todd, Shane Todd's father, told AP news agency last week.

"They never interviewed us and it became obvious from the court that they never investigated the possibility of murder."

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