Published: 23 May 2013 at 20.49
The parents of a US scientist found hanged in Singapore last year said Thursday they will seek a US congressional inquiry and tap a celebrity Thai pathologist to prove their son was murdered.
Mary Todd, mother of the late researcher Shane Todd whose death in June 2012 was ruled a suicide by the Singapore police, indicated the family did not expect the US government to intervene because of its interests in Asia.
“We don’t know, we don’t know what the US government will do,” she told AFP in an interview at Singapore’s Changi Airport before she, her husband Rick and two sons boarded a flight back to the United States.
“We’ve got so much evidence backing up what we have claimed that our son was involved with,” she said, adding that the US government “is very tentative because of their relationship with Singapore and China.
“I think they’d rather have us go away. But we’re not going away.”
Asked if the campaign will include pressing for a US congressional investigation, she said “yes”.
The family says that before he died, Shane Todd feared he was being made to compromise US national security in a secret project involving a Singapore institute and a Chinese telecom firm accused of international espionage.
The Todds stormed out of a Singapore coroner’s inquest on Tuesday, saying they had lost faith in the process, after a succession of witnesses gave evidence that he hanged himself in his apartment.
Their case was further undermined on Wednesday when two senior US medical examiners backed Singapore’s suicide report and rejected a murder scenario put forward by another American pathologist who had been engaged by the Todds.
In the interview, Mary Todd distanced the family from the theory of their pathologist witness, Edward Adelstein, who said their son may have been disabled with a stun gun and killed with an arm lock before being hanged on his bathroom door.
“No. We have another pathologist in Thailand who said she believes he was strangled and then hung on the door. And that’s what we believe.”
The head of the Todds’ Singaporean legal team, Gloria James-Civetta, said the mother was referring to Porntip Rojanasunan, a flamboyant Thai pathologist involved in a number of high-profile cases.
Porntip told AFP in Bangkok that a Todd family lawyer had approached her and showed her some photos, but it was not an “official consultation”.
Asked whether she had said it was a strangling, she said: “I did not make such a comment, I said there are suspicious points that need to be explained and answered.”
The two firms implicated by the family — Todd’s former employer, Singapore’s state-linked Institute of Microelectronics, and China’s Huawei Technologies — say they only held preliminary talks on a project with commercial 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.
The Todds have vowed to shift their campaign to the “court of public opinion” and Mary Todd said they hope to produce enough evidence to at least force Singapore’s state coroner to render an “undetermined” verdict.
“There is new evidence every day. It’s crazy.”
“What we are hoping is that the (Singapore) judge has been put in a position where he feels that he has to look at all the evidence,” she said as the family waited for their flight home.
“So if he looks at the evidence, he’ll come up with, we’re hoping at least, ‘undetermined'”.
Hearings are scheduled to end on Tuesday and the state coroner’s verdict is expected by late June. It will only deal with the cause of death and cannot be appealed.