David Hartanto Widjaja's Coroner Court Final Result

- 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 on Wednesday 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.

David's familyIn 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 Hartanto Widjaja 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.

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

Said the coroner:

'These witnesses did not know David Hartanto Widjaja, neither did they know about the prior incident involving David Hartanto Widjaja 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 Hartanto Widjaja 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 Hartanto Widjaja.'

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

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

Related Articles :


Post a Comment