- Coroner rules US scientist killed himself
- US says S’pore suicide ruling on scientist ‘fair’
- Seven workers killed and 15 hurt in India collapse
A SINGAPORE state coroner ruled that a US scientist found hanged in the city-state in 2012 committed suicide during a bout of depression and was not murdered as his family claims.
The body of 31-year-old electronics engineer Shane Todd was discovered by his girlfriend in his flat in June 2012, sparking a controversy that reached the highest levels of the Singapore and US governments after his parents refused to accept suicide findings by the Singapore police.
Todd's family say that he was murdered as part of a conspiracy involving a Chinese technology firm.
"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. It was limited by law to the cause of death and did not address the family's claims that Todd was murdered.
"The evidence was incontrovertibly consistent with asphyxia due to hanging," Chay told a packed court, adding that evidence presented during the 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 testified that Todd had suffered from the condition as a university student.
"His psychiatric condition included suicidal ideations of an overall increasing severity over the last few months of his life, which he had masked from the people around him," Chay said.
Todd's parents say he was murdered as part of a conspiracy involving his former employer, Singapore's state-linked Institute of Microelectronics (IME), and Chinese technology firm Huawei Technologies.
IME and Huawei said they only held preliminary talks on a potential project with commercial applications, but did not proceed.
The death of the American scientist was first thrust into the spotlight after the Financial Times reported in February that Todd's family suspected he was murdered because of his work on a joint project with Huawei involving gallium nitride, a semiconductor material with military and commercial applications.
Singapore quickly moved to dispel allegations that it had improper ties with Huawei and vowed to conduct a transparent investigation into the case. Police investigators in the city-state subsequently shared information with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation. — AFP
THE US government said a Singapore coroner's inquiry which ruled that an American scientist committed suicide in the city-state in 2012 was "comprehensive, fair, and transparent".
The US embassy in Singapore said Shane Todd's family, who insist he was murdered, "was given the opportunity to participate in the hearing and was represented by experienced Singapore legal counsel".
"The inquiry into Dr Todd's death was comprehensive, fair, and transparent," the embassy said in a statement on the findings.
Officers from the embassy attended the two-week inquiry in May and were with the Todd family during their time in Singapore, the statement said.
The family walked out before the hearings ended, saying they had lost faith in the process.
US Ambassador to Singapore David Adelman also met with the family in December 2012 and May 2013, the embassy said.
"The coroner heard testimony from a wide range of witnesses in open court and received evidence in the form of written statements and records," the statement said. — AFP
SECUNDERABAD (India): The wall of a two-storey hotel collapsed in this southern Indian city, killing at least seven restaurant workers and injuring 15 others, local police officials said.
Rescue workers were searching through tonnes of rubble for those still trapped after the incident in Andhra Pradesh state, local police official Srinivasan said.
"Seven persons have been found dead so far after a nearby hotel collapsed early this morning, we are still trying to clear the rubble and find more people," Srinivasan said.
Nearly 25 people were working at the City Light Hotel, located on a busy road in Secunderabad, when the kitchen wall gave way, burying staff under debris, local police official B. Surender said.
Fifteen people were admitted to hospital, five of them with serious injuries, Surender said. It was unclear how many people were still trapped under the rubble.
"The building was very old and the walls showed cracks, according to people working nearby," he added.
Rescue workers used diggers, cranes and electric cutters to try to clear the debris, as family members of the hotel workers waited at the site for news.
Several buildings have collapsed in India in recent months, many of them apartment blocks in the financial capital Mumbai, including one in April that killed 74 people.
The collapses have highlighted pervasive poor construction standards in the country, where massive demand for housing and endemic corruption often result in illegal buildings and a lack of safety inspections. — AFP
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