Singapore coroner rules US scientist committed suicide


Tue, Jul 09, 2013 - Page 6

A Singapore coroner ruled yesterday that a US scientist found hanged in the city-state last year committed suicide during a bout of depression and was not murdered as his family claimed.

The US government, which had expressed strong interest in the case of electronics engineer Shane Todd, said the coroner’s inquiry was “comprehensive, fair and transparent.”

The body of 31-year-old Todd was discovered by his girlfriend in his apartment in June last year, sparking a controversy that reached the highest levels of both governments after his parents refused to accept Singaporean police findings that he killed himself.

The family, citing documents found in Todd’s computer files, said he was working on a secret project with military applications and murdered as part of a conspiracy involving a Chinese technology firm and a state-linked Singaporean research institute.

There was no immediate reaction from the family to the verdict.

“The evidence before me ... compels me to find, beyond reasonable doubt, that the deceased had committed suicide by hanging himself,” state coroner Chay Yuen Fatt said in his verdict on Todd’s death.

The coroner’s ruling cannot be appealed. The investigation was limited by law to the cause of death and did not address the family’s conspiracy claims.

“The evidence was incontrovertibly consistent with asphyxia due to hanging,” Chay told a packed court, adding that evidence presented during a two-week public inquest in May was “inconsistent with the possibility that there was foul play.”

Chay said the evidence also showed that before his death, Todd had suffered a relapse of depression. Witnesses earlier testified that Todd had suffered from the condition as a university student.