The family of Shane Todd, an American engineer and researcher whose body was found hanging in the bathroom of his Singapore apartment last June, has hired a group of five Singapore lawyers to represent them at a coroner’s inquest.
Todd’s death was the subject of a Financial Times investigative report published in February. Though the Singapore police initially ruled that Todd committed suicide, the expatriate’s parents, who found that many details from the scene did not match the police report, believe he may have been murdered because of his work at the Singapore Institute of Microelectronics (IME).
Family members claim they found in their son’s apartment a hard drive overlooked by police that contained files detailing a project between IME and Ch inese telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies. They say the Todd had previously expressed discomfort that a project he was working on with a Chinese company might have military applications that would affect U.S . national security.
The incident has attracted high-level attention in Washington. In March, K. Shanmugam, Singapore’s foreign affairs minister as well as its law minister, flew there to meet U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Attorney General Eric Holder, and Montana Senator Max Baucus. Shanmugam pledged a full investigation in which evidence will be presented. The Singapore police has announced it will share with the FBI evidence related to Todd’s death. It has also asked the FBI for assistance in analyzing the hard drive , which Todd’s family gave it to U.S. law enforcement agency.
Todd’s family has hired Gloria James-Civetta and Am arjit Singh Sidhu from Gloria James-Civetta & Co, Steven Lam from JTJB, and Foo Cheow Ming and Peter Ong from Peter Ong & Raymond Tan to represent them at the inquest, which is scheduled to begin May 13 and last 15 days. Though it is not a court case—witnesses will be called by the coroner and there will be no prosecution or defense—interested parties are allowed to ask the witnesses questions.
James said that she was contacted directly by Todd’s father Rick Todd. The lawyers have notified the police, prosecution and the court of their involvement. She also said that her team has been in contact with the Todd family through email and conference calls , and will later meet them in Singapore.
According to James, a large team of lawyers is necessary because some 50 witnesses are expected to testify. “I roped in my lawyer friends who are also practicing criminal lawyers,” said James. “Each lawyer will be focusing on the getting-up and preparation of the matter.”
The team often works together, said James. In December, they represented on a pro bono basis a group of Chinese bus drivers who were charged with instigating a strike.