5 S'pore lawyers to act for family of dead US researcher

A TEAM of five lawyers from three Singapore law firms will represent the family of Dr Shane Todd next month at the coroner's inquiry into his death.

Dr Todd, 31, an American researcher, was found hanged in his apartment here last June shortly after he quit the Singapore Institute of Microelectronics (IME), which is part of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research.

His parents believe he may have been murdered because of his research at the institute.

The lawyers are Ms Gloria James and Mr Amarjit Singh from Gloria James-Civetta & Co; Mr Steven Lam from JTJB; and Mr Foo Cheow Ming and Mr Peter Ong from Peter Ong and Raymond Tan.

Ms James, the lead lawyer, said yesterday that Dr Todd's father Rick had contacted her law firm through its website on April 1. The lawyers have notified the police, prosecution and the court of their involvement, she added.

The lawyers have also been in contact with the Todd family through e-mail and tele-conferences, and will meet them in Singapore "to go through the relevant documents with them", said Ms James.

The coroner's inquiry will begin on May 13.

Dr Todd's parents have claimed that they found work files that contained details of a project between IME and Chinese telecoms giant Huawei Technologies in their son's apartment shortly after his death. Huawei has been suspected of espionage by the United States government, although it denies this.

Both Huawei and IME have said that they did not go beyond preliminary talks on a commercial project involving gallium nitride, a semiconductor material which has been widely studied by other scientists.

IME has also said that it welcomes a team from the US to audit it to prove it was not involved in improper transfers of technology, following a similar invitation by Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam last month.