David Hartanto Widjaja's death is suicide! (Not killed, unless it's by Gravity)

The verdict is out today: the death of David Hartanto Widjaja is suicide. As expected, the Widjaja family are saddened & very disappointed about it. The feelings are understandable as the family had lost the chance to have the death of the son further scrutinized in another court of justice.

Justice has been served? Well, at least according to the Singapore Coroner's Court.

State coroner on Wednesday recorded a suicide verdict on the death of Nanyang Techological University (NTU) undergrad David Widjaja, who jumped from a campus block after allegedly stabbing his professor in his office with a kitchen knife..

A bloody Widjaja, 21, an Indonesian, was seen leaving the office of NTU professor Chan Kap Luk. Several witnesses who had testified earlier said they saw the student thrust himself off the bridge on March 2.

The coroner's inquiry into the engineering student's death turned up strong evidence that Mr Widjaja had been planning to kill himself - a possibility his family has repeatedly dismissed.

The inquest was told that months before he fell to his death on campus,Mr Widjaja was searching the Internet for ways to commit suicide and murder.

Text fragments gleaned from the undergraduate's laptop show he used search engine Google to look for 'a good way to commit suicide' and also the 10 most common suicide methods.

He also searched for murder methods and spent some time at a website titled How To Get Away With Murder.

Senior Staff Sergeant Joe Ng Suan Teck, who conducted a forensic examination of Mr Widjaja's black Lenovo laptop's contents, told the court that the text fragments he had extracted included Internet searches and links to websites pertaining to both suicide and murder.

His examination of the laptop also threw up what appears to be a suicide note.

The unsigned document, titled Last Words, was created on Jan 25 and left unamended.

In the note, which begins 'If this e-mail is sent, that means I am no longer in this world', the writer painted a picture of an unhappy family situation, saying he became 'hardened' and stopped crying after he turned 16. 'I just don't have any more tears for me to shed for other people.'

The writer said he 'found life much more difficult and complicated' after entering university.

From Straits Times, "It's Suicide".

Singapore's state coroner has recorded a verdict of suicide in the case of the death of David Widjaja, who was found dead on the grounds of Nanyang Technological University (NTU) on March 2 after stabbing his professor with a knife.

David, an Indonesian national, was a student in NTU's faculty of Electrical and Electronic Engineering.

The University's Professor Chan Kap Luk was supervising David in his final year project.

The state coroner concluded that at about 10.25am that day, David had voluntarily stabbed Prof Chan with a knife in the professor’s office.

The state coroner added that a struggle followed, and it was possible that David could have sustained some injuries during the struggle.

The State Coroner also concluded that after the incident, David had walked towards the parapet wall near a link bridge, sat at the edge and then fell on his own.

The state coroner also concluded that there was no foul play involved in the incident.

From Channel NewsAsia, "State Coroner records a verdict of suicide in David Widjaja's case".

The Singaporean coroner’s court has decided to halt its investigation into the controversial death of Indonesian student David Hartanto Widjaya following its conclusion that his death was a suicide and not murder.

During Wednesday’s trial, judge Victor Yeoh said the results of an investigation and evidence presented before the court proved David had committed suicide.

“I rejected all the evidence from the victim’s family,” Yeoh said to tempointeraktif.com.

David’s father, Hartanto Widjaya, said he was very disappointed with the verdict because the judge did not reveal this evidence as promised.

“The judge preferred to use testimonies from Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU). This is unfair,” Hartanto said.

David’s brother, William Hartanto Widjaya, said the court had based its verdict on flawed and false testimonies.

On March 6, 21-year old David fell to his death from the fourth floor of the NTU building after stabbing Associate Professor Chan Kap Luk in the back in his office. David’s parents have forever dismissed this theory, claiming their son had no reason to kill himself.

From Jakarta Post, "David committed suicide, not murdered: Singaporean Court".

The father of Indonesian student David Hartanto Widjaja said he was “very sad and disappointed” by the Singapore Coroners’ Court ruling on Wednesday that his son’s death was suicide, adding that he felt the Indonesian government had not done enough to help.

David was found dead at the campus of Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in March this year, and his family and supporters believe he may have been murdered. The ruling means that the family’s case will not be heard by a criminal court.

Speaking with the Jakarta Globe on the phone directly after the verdict was delivered, David’s father Hartono Widjaja said he was saddened by the outcome.

“When the judge was about to read the verdict, we walked out of the court because we knew what the verdict was going to be,” Hartono said. “I’m so deeply sad, my tears have gone dry. I cried for help until my voice was gone.”

David’s mentor, Prof. Chan Kap Luk, had accused the student of attempting to stab him with a kitchen knife shortly before he allegedly jumped to his death from the fourth floor of the university building. As a student, David had excelled in science and math and he was part of several international knowledge olympiads. He was attending the university on a scholarship.

The family cannot appeal the court's decision. They maintain that the circumstances surrounding David’s death were suspicious and have said that the government did not do enough to ensure a fair trial.

“Why did the government close their ears and their eyes to us? My son was an Indonesian citizen, he fought for Indonesia in a world competition but his beloved country did not help him,” Hartono said.

“For four months we have been asking and begging the government to help us. We needed their help to speak to the Singaporean government to ask them to give us a fair trial.”

Vice President-elect Boediono met with the family in Singapore on Tuesday, and while Hartono said Boediono was supportive, “he is not in the government yet.”

“He only met us one day before the verdict,” Hartono said. “What can we expect from him?”

Hartono took the opportunity to thank David’s friends and individuals who were sympathetic to the family’s plight.

“Without their generous help, we wouldn’t have been able to hire a lawyer and pay our expenses in Singapore,” he said.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda rejected the notion that the government had not helped, saying the family chose to hire its own Indonesian lawyer instead of going through the embassy to secure someone local.

"How the embassy can help the family mainly depends on their being included in the legal process," he said. "We remain committed to supporting and protecting Indonesian citizens."

From Jakarta Globe, "Singapore Court Rules Indonesian Student's Death Was Suicide".

Once the coroner declared that Indonesian undergraduate David Hartanto Widjaja had killed himself, his family stormed out of court yelling to all and sundry that there was a conspiracy to cover up his 'murder'.

It was a dramatic finish to one of the longest-running hearings into a case of unnatural death, spanning 10 days and more than 30 witnesses.

State Coroner Victor Yeo yesterday took pains to answer every objection the family had about how the 21-year-old had died on March 2 at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), taking almost two hours to deliver his verdict.

From Asiaone, "David Widjaja's death: it's suicide".

His family had vigorously questioned the probe and investigators every step of the way, even taking their case to the Indonesian media, since David Hartanto Widjaja fell to his death on March 2 at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

Yesterday was no different, as the Coroner's Inquiry came to a conclusion that had seemed inevitable given the overwhelming evidence presented over the 10-day hearing last month: It was suicide. State Coroner Victor Yeo said: "I can fully empathise with the family and I can understand their disbelief at the evidence adduced in this inquiry."

"Whilst it may be difficult and painful for David's family to accept all that has happened, that is not to say that the testimonies of all the witnesses, the forensic evidence, scientific evidence and through investigations conducted by the Police were complete untruths and fabricated lies".

District Judge Yeo said several factors led to his decision. For one, witnesses had said they saw David, 21, push himself off the roof of the bridge.

Expert witnesses Dr Marian Wang and Associate Professor Gilbert Lau also concluded that the injuries on David's upper limbs were likely sustained in the struggled with his lecturer, Associate Professor Chan Kap Luk, but "that is not to say that they were deliberated or intentionally inflicted" by the latter, as David's family had contended.

Judge Yeo also felt no weight should be given to the report prepared by forensic pathologist Dr Djaja Surya Atmadja, who was hired by the family to submit an opinion. Dr Djaja had concluded that David was attacked with a sharp weapon and defended himself, but the doctor did not examine the body and the opinion was "purely based on the autopsy report prepared by Dr Wang".

Crucial evidence

David's family have argued that he was murdered - a belief they maintained even after the verdict was delivered.

But as Judge Yeo said, the "crucial piece of evidence" that pointed to a suicide was the note recovered from David's laptop.

The unsigned document, titled Last Words, was created on Jan 25 and suggests that David found life "difficult and complicated" after he entered university", noted Judge Yeo.

Investigators also uncovered evidence that showed the final-year undergraduate had used a search engine to look for the 10 most common suicide methods.

Given that the laptop was password-protected and that the note also contained intimate details of David's childhood and his family, "it would not be unreasonable for this Court to conclude that it could not have been written by anyone else", Judge Yeo said.

Lawyer: Findings fair

It took the coroner two hours to deliver his detailed verdict. Afterwards, speaking to the Indonesian and local reporters who turned up in force, David's brother William said: "We cannot accept the findings … but we won't stop here."

A spokesperson from the Indonesian Embassy said the judge "has given his decision and we understand the decision is difficult for the family".

Lawyer Shashi Nathan, who represented the family, said they were concerned that some of their evidence was not presented during the inquiry.

But Mr Nathan believed the hearings have been fair and that "everything that could have been done has been done".

He added: "I expect it will take them some time for this to sink in. The evidence that was heard in court covered all aspects of the case. One can understand that they are looking to assign blame but they have to accept it and see if they can move on."

Responding to queries by Today, an NTU spokesperson said following the incident, the university "had given every assistance and support to the family during their time of need". "Understandably, the family will need time to come to terms with the loss of their loved one," the spokesperson said.

From TODAY, "Why it was suicide: The 'painful' facts ...".

Once the coroner declared that Indonesian undergraduate David Hartanto Widjaja had killed himself, his family stormed out of court yelling to all and sundry that there was a conspiracy to cover up his 'murder'.

It was a dramatic finish to one of the longest-running hearings into a case of unnatural death, spanning 10 days and more than 30 witnesses.

State Coroner Victor Yeo yesterday took pains to answer every objection the family had about how the 21-year-old had died on March 2 at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), taking almost two hours to deliver his verdict.

The state's version, put forth by State Counsel Shahla Iqbal, was that the final-year engineering student had attacked Professor Chan Kap Luk before falling to his death.

But the family insisted it was the academic who started the tussle in his office and contended that the youth had been pushed off a 15m-high link bridge.

In the morning, lawyer Shashi Nathan, who represented the family, asked the coroner to deliver an open verdict which would indicate that there were several question marks over the case.

'It may not be so clear-cut as there are inconsistencies among the witnesses and it cannot be said with certainty that David took his own life,' he said.

In the afternoon, the coroner made it clear that he was rejecting the family's contention. 'I am in complete agreement with the assessment of the police that there is no foul play suspected after their investigations,' he said before recording his verdict of suicide.

He drew on the testimonies of pathologists, forensic experts and witnesses to conclude that Mr Widjaja had stabbed Prof Chan and then killed himself.

The youth had wounds which were inflicted during his struggle with the professor but these were not fatal or defensive. Eyewitnesses said that Mr Widjaja was alone on the bridge and three saw him fall off. There was also a video-recording of Mr Widjaja just before he fell.

Said the coroner: 'These witnesses did not know David, neither did they know about the prior incident involving David and Prof Chan in his office. There was no reason for any of these witnesses to lie in court about what they saw and heard on that fateful day.'

Another critical piece of evidence: a suicide note recovered in the youth's computer in which he talked about his struggle with studies. 'Whilst I accept that David had behaved normally to his friends and family and did not exhibit or reveal any signs of trouble, what he had written in his laptop clearly suggests that, unknown to his family and friends, not everything was going well for David.'

He did not go into why Mr Widjaja attacked Prof Chan, saying such speculation would not be 'appropriate'. But based on testimonies and their e-mail correspondence, they had a 'normal student-supervisor relationship', he said.

Given that Prof Chan was stabbed in the back, and the fingerprints on the knife handle belonged to the youth, he said it appeared that Mr Widjaja was 'the aggressor' and Prof Chan, 'the victim'.

The coroner said that while it might be 'difficult and painful' for Mr Widjaja's family to accept all that has happened, 'that is not to say that the testimonies of all the witnesses, the forensic evidence, scientific evidence and the thorough investigations conducted by the police were complete untruths and fabricated lies'.

His words did not comfort Mr Widjaja's parents, older brother and an uncle, who were in court yesterday along with a batik-clad contingent of officials from the Indonesian Embassy and friends.

After the family walked out of the courtroom, Mr Nathan apologised to the coroner for their abrupt departure, saying that they did not mean to offend him.

About 10 police officers stood watch outside the courtroom as family members let fly their dissatisfaction with the verdict, and intentions of taking other courses of action.

Prof Chan was unavailable for comment last night. An NTU spokesman said university officials who had been helping the family 'appreciate the shocked disbelief, grief and pain the family members feel'. 'Understandably, the family will need time to come to terms with the loss of their loved one.'


Coroner responds to family's points

THE family of David Hartanto Widjaja made a last-ditch attempt in court yesterday to put forward claims that their son had been 'murdered'. Here are their arguments and the coroner's reply:


Widjajas: There was blood on his neck when they viewed his body in the mortuary and the multiple wounds amounting to 36 seemed more consistent with the youth fending off his attacker, Professor Chan Kap Luk, than a fall from a height.

Coroner: Accepted pathologists' evidence that there was no open wound on the neck when autopsy was performed.

'Viewings at the mortuary are purely for identification and it is the practice to wrap the body in a plastic shroud exposing only the head and neck,' he said.

David had died of multiple injuries after falling from a height. Nineteen of the wounds on his upper body were likely to have been inflicted during the struggle with Prof Chan, though 'not deliberately or intentionally'. But these wounds were neither fatal nor defensive in nature.


Widjajas: NTU staff and students lied about seeing David alone on the building link bridge and falling off. They said the extent of David's injuries would not have allowed him to climb over the parapet wall onto the link bridge, let alone push himself off the ledge.

They disputed the authenticity of an eight-second video made by a witness, which showed an elevated view of a person seated alone on the link bridge. They said the person in the video was not David.

Coroner: Nine witnesses saw David sitting on the bridge that day at about the same time before his body was found on the ground floor. Three of them saw David falling off the bridge.

He said: 'Having had the benefit of observing the demeanour of these witnesses as they gave their testimonies in court, I did not detect the slightest hint of untruthfulness in their evidence.'

The video was an additional piece of objective evidence which corroborates their testimonies.


Widjajas: Disputed evidence that David had written a text file dated Jan 25 and titled 'Last Word' found in his laptop.

The laptop was recovered by police at his hostel room in the presence of campus security officers. The family believes someone else might have written the note and that it may not be a suicide note.

Coroner: David's laptop was protected by a password and the note contained intimate details of his childhood and his family. In the note, David said he found life difficult and complicated after he entered university.

He said: 'The note also suggested that David had tried to struggle but he was not strong enough to continue and hence contemplated suicide.'

David had also searched online for information relating to 'suicide', 'suicide method' and 'murder method'.

Various computer games found on the laptop and evidence that David had spent many hours playing online games suggested that he was the only user of the laptop.

From Asiaone, "Student's death ruled a suicide".

The family of the late David Hartanto Widjaya, plans to submit new evidence to the Singaporean High Court, which they say may prove their son was murdered.

"We will submit new evidence to the High Court. If this fails, there is still a chance we can appeal to the Supreme Court," Christovita Wiloto, who leads an advocacy team for the family, told a press conference Friday as reported by Antara news agency.

"By submitting new evidence we expect there will be another Coroner's Court session overruling the previous verdict."

The Coroner's Court ruled Wednesday that David, 21, who was studying at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) committed suicide on March 2 by jumping from a campus building, after allegedly stabbing his professor with a kitchen knife.

Christovita went further by saying the team was studying the possibility of taking the case to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

"Taking the case to the international court, however, requires support from all parties especially from the government," he said.

David's family and lawyers believe they are facing a massive wall of conspiracy in court proceedings in Singapore.

"We need stronger efforts and political pressure from the Indonesian government so that we can uphold justice," said Christovita.

"Our fight does not end with the verdict, it has just started."

The case can not be heard at the criminal court after the Coroner's Court ruled that David had committed suicide.

Singaporean prosecutors have also rejected submission or the objection and legal response filed by David's family.

However, Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda said it was impossible for the Indonesian government to pressure the Singaporean government about the country's coroner's inquest into David's death.

"This is a legal matter. There is a limit to the government's role," he told reporters.

"We cannot interfere with their judiciary as we would never want foreign parties to meddle in our own legal affairs."

The government, however, did offer to help the family file a request to the Singaporean High Court to review Wednesday's verdict that ruled that David committed suicide, and was not murdered as his family believe.

"But this will not re-open the case," said Hassan.

Commenting on the family's plan to bring the case to the international court, Hassan said there was no way the family could take the case to the ICJ or the International Criminal Court (ICC) because the international courts deal with high profile cases such as territorial disputes and genocide.

After all, Hassan added, both Indonesia and Singapore had not ratified the Rome Statute and were therefore not member states of the ICC.

"Please don't create false hope for the family," he said.

Hartanto Wijaya, David's father, accused the government of failing to help him seek justice in Singapore where he believed the local authorities conspired to murder his son and cover up the case.

Hassan said the government had assisted David's family in their efforts to shed light on the case and even offered them a lawyer when Hartanto said he was planning to change lawyers. "But the offer was rejected," said the minister

The Indonesian Embassy also advised the family to fly David's body to Indonesia for a second autopsy, which may have provided more evidence, but the family decided to cremate his body in Singapore.

From Jakarta Post, "David's family to present new evidence to a higher court".


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