Hanged U.S. scientist’s body may be exhumed again in Singapore

By Agence France-Presse
Monday, May 27, 2013 8:22 EDT
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Rick Todd and his wife Mary leave the Subordinate courthouse in Singapore, on May 21, 2013. Image via AFP.
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The body of an American scientist found hanged in Singapore last year may be exhumed for a second autopsy in a bid to prove he was murdered, his father said Monday.

“Based on my investigations, I believed that Shane did not commit suicide,” Rick Todd, an airline pilot, said in a written statement submitted to a coroner’s inquest in Singapore.

“I am now convinced that a second autopsy should have been done and I have to consider obtaining an opinion from another expert who can come to Singapore to testify or to have Shane’s body exhumed,” he said.

Todd’s parents and brothers, saying they had lost faith in the Singapore inquiry, angrily walked out of a hearing last week and flew home. But they left behind individual statements to the coroner.

The body of Shane Todd, a high-tech electronics engineer, was found on June 24, 2012 in his Singapore apartment. He was 31 and preparing to return to the United States after a stint with a state-linked Singapore research institute.

A Singapore autopsy said he hanged himself, but the family had been questioning the findings even before burying his remains in Pomona, California, where Todd spent his early years. The family is now based in Montana.

Todd’s parents said that before he died, he feared he was being made to compromise US national security in a secret project involving the Singapore institute and a Chinese telecom firm accused of international espionage.

“Shane loved life and lived it to the fullest,” his mother Mary said in her statement to the inquest.

Rick Todd, who worked in a family-owned mortuary in Pomona before becoming a pilot for American Airlines, said in his statement that he sought the opinion of a prominent Thai forensic pathologist, Porntip Rojanasunan, this month in a conference call.

He said a lawyer for the family, Peter Ong, met Porntip and she was shown the Singapore autopsy report, photographs taken at the Singapore apartment and mortuary, as well as pictures of the body lying in a casket during a US memorial service.

Gloria James-Civetta, the head of a team of five lawyers who represented the Todds before they abandoned the inquiry, said the idea of having the body exhumed for a second autopsy was suggested by Porntip.

But the Thai forensics expert denied she suggested a second autopsy or speaking with Rick Todd.

“The lawyer is the one I talked to. I did not give any official consultation, because I only saw pictures, but I gave some opinions,” Porntip told AFP in Bangkok.

“I did not advise a second autopsy. I said a second examination of a suspicious area of the body — in this case I meant the wrist — could be carried out.”

Eduard Adelstein, a medical examiner from Missouri who was engaged by the Todd family, testified last week that the researcher may have been murdered by assassins.

But two senior US pathologists backed Singapore’s suicide report and rejected the murder scenario.

[Image via Agence France-Presse]

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