SINGAPORE May 22 The parents of a U.S. engineer
found dead in Singapore last year said on Wednesday they will
not take part in the rest of a coroner's inquiry into his death,
which they say was linked to a project involving the transfer of
sensitive technology to China.
In a statement issued through their lawyers, Rick and Mary
Todd said they had lost confidence in the system investigating
the death of their 31-year-old son, Shane, who was found hanging
in his Singapore apartment last June.
The Todds did not appear in court on Wednesday, the day
after a U.S. medical examiner they had hired retracted an
earlier statement that Shane Todd had been garrotted.
They walked out of the hearing later on Tuesday after the
presiding coroner refused their request to delay testimony by a
witness so that they could go through it.
"We no longer have confidence in the transparency and the
fairness of the system. It appears to us that the outcome has
been pre-determined," the Todds said in the statement read out
by their lawyer, Gloria James-Civetta.
Singapore police have said Todd probably committed suicide.
His parents believe he was murdered, possibly because of
what they said was his involvement in a project between
Singapore's Institute of Microelectronics (IME) and Chinese
telecommunications giant Huawei. Todd had previously
worked for the institute.
His death has become a political issue, with U.S. Senator
Max Baucus, who represents Todd's home state of Montana,
pressing for more American involvement in the investigation.
Under Singapore law, a coroner's inquiry is needed for
deaths that are not a result of illness. The state will present
evidence and family members are allowed to question witnesses
either directly or through their lawyers.
During the inquiry, which began on May 13, Singapore
government lawyers presented forensic reports that showed Shane
Todd had died by hanging based on injuries around his neck.
Their findings were backed by two U.S. pathologists, who
said the manner of death pointed to suicide.
U.S. medical examiners, besides reporting on the injury, are
also required to provide an opinion about the cause of death.
Edward Adelstein, the U.S. medical examiner hired by the
Todds, said during cross-examination on Tuesday he had based his
earlier finding of garrotting based on photographs provided by
Testifying via Skype, Adelstein said he had not physically
examined the body.
He also said on Tuesday he had changed his mind about the
cause of death after reviewing evidence provided by Singapore
authorities that showed no signs of broken blood vessels in the
neck, consistent with strangulation by wire or cord.
However, Adelstein insisted that Todd was probably dead
before he was hanged from a door in his apartment after being
"tasered" or strangled in a "carotid armlock". He also said he
could not show any evidence to support that.
The Todds' belief their son was murdered stemmed from
documents on a hard disk drive they said they found in his
apartment. He had been researching an advanced semiconductor
material called Gallium Nitride (GaN).
Both Todd's former employer IME and Huawei said they did not
proceed beyond initial discussions into a possible project
involving GaN, which can be used in equipment ranging from
mobile phone base stations to military radars.
Huawei has been blocked from some projects in Australia and
is deemed a security risk by the U.S. Congress on the grounds
that its equipment could be used for spying.