Sun, Jun 28, 2009
The Straits Times
More accusations hurled at NTU

By Kimberly Spykerman

WHEN Mr David Hartanto Widjaja's family arrived in Singapore on the day he died, various people all told them he had stabbed his professor, cut his own wrists and jumped off a bridge to his death.

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These were mostly representatives from the Nanyang Technological University, said Mr Widjaja's brother William at a coroner's inquiry into the death.

Mr William Widjaja, 24, said he was surprised everyone had already drawn conclusions about how the events had panned out even though police investigations had barely started.

A bloody Mr David Widjaja, 21, had been 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.

Mr William Widjaja said on the stand yesterday: 'NTU lied to us. They convinced us David cut his wrists and committed suicide. We never believed it.'

He added that his family said 'yes' when the university 'pressured' them to decide whether they wanted to cremate Mr Widjaja's body in Singapore or to fly the body back in a coffin. Had the family been aware of the injuries his brother had suffered, he said, they would have flown his body to Jakarta for another autopsy.

When he said he doubted how the autopsy here was conducted, State Coroner Victor Yeo intervened and requested that Mr William Widjaja stick to 'objective evidence'. On Wednesday, the Widjajas lashed out at NTU over a statement it released shortly after the incident, saying such a statement should not have been released before investigations were done.

The statement, released to the media about four hours after the incident, said Mr David Widjaja was 'believed to have stabbed Prof Chan and subsequently fallen off the linkway between two blocks'.

Mr William Widjaja also spoke of suspicions of a conspiracy theory and accused NTU of withholding information about his brother's death from the family.

He said NTU had 'intimidated' several students who knew his brother into not speaking about the incident to anyone.

He said the family had asked to see his brother's body immediately upon arrival but were told the 'timing was inappropriate'. Repeated requests later that evening were also turned down.

The family saw Mr David Widjaja's body only on the next day. They were given just three minutes to look at his face and neck, Mr William Widjaja said. The rest of the body remained wrapped in plastic, even though the family said they made numerous requests to view it.

Station Inspector Soh Chee Eng, the lead investigating officer, clarified that he had informed the family that the purpose of the viewing was to identify the body. He also did not recall receiving any requests to view the body.

Still, the family insisted that the truth about their son's injuries had been kept hidden from them. Mr William Widjaja admitted, however, that the family had indeed authorised NTU to collect the body and make all funeral arrangements.

Before yesterday's hearing began, the Widjajas submitted a letter asking to suspend the hearing to replace their lawyer and to submit names of new witnesses. Both applications were rejected. The coroner will deliver his verdict on July 29.

This article was first published in The Straits Times.

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