[UPDATED 8 July 1:45pm: Added statement issued by United States Embassy in Singapore]
American scientist Shane Todd committed suicide by hanging himself, according to a coroner’s final verdict issued Monday.
State coroner Chay Yuen Fatt found that there was no foul play and that the deceased died by asphyxia due to hanging.
The electronics engineer, 31 years old at the time of his passing, was found hanged in his Singapore apartment in June last year. His passing was kept low-key, until his parents Rick and Mary Todd approached U.S. media insisting their son was murdered – for involvement in a secretive transnational project between Singaporean and Chinese firms.
Todd's family was absent from the public hearing, but asked for their son's personal belongings to be returned to them.
The outcome of the inquiry, which cannot be appealed, comes after drama-filled events in court over two weeks of public hearings in May.
Upon arriving in Singapore, Todd’s parents accused local police of tampering with vital evidence. A week later, they stormed out of court and returned to America after their main witness, a U.S. pathologist, was mocked by the audience.
Despite having never seen the body, Dr. Edward Adelstein theorized – without evidence – that Todd had been assassinated and was hanged for the appearance of suicide.
Chay called Adelstein's findings "nothing short of bizarre and extremely unhelpful".
Todd’s parents maintain he was targeted after he quit his job at Singapore’s government-affiliated Institute of Microelectronics. They say their son had expressed unease over working with China’s Huawei Technologies on an allegedly high-tech project for military use.
The firms have denied working on a clandestine project involving Todd.
The project, which reportedly involved the advanced semiconductor material gallium nitride, "did not ever materialise", said Chay, who added that the "specifications show that... it would not have been used for military applications".
The Singapore government also rejected the conspiracy theory in favour of forensic evidence that Todd hanged himself, a position corroborated by two other testifying U.S. pathologists.
Additional findings presented by local authorities include a psychiatrist's testimony that he was depressed, suicide notes and a history of visiting suicide websites.
Chay described Todd as having "faced great difficulty coping with the demands" of his job, "arising from his inexperience in this field of research and what was to him a high volume of workload which included a substantial amount of paperwork."
"The deceased was known to be a perfectionist and probably took it hard upon himself when he failed to attain a certain level of proficiency (in his work)," said Chay.
All such conclusions have been summarily dismissed by Todd’s parents as “a sham and cover-up”.
The United States Embassy in Singapore issued a statement on Monday afternoon calling the inquiry "comprehensive, fair and transparent."
While the verdict is final, the case may be reopened if new, relevant evidence is presented.
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