Death of Cradle CEO not due to ‘exploding phone’ but suspected murder, say investigators

Nazrin Hassan, Cradle CEO
Nazrin Hassan, Cradle CEO

The sudden death of Cradle Fund CEO Nazrin Hassan in June of this year is now being treated as a suspected murder by investigators.
Cradle is a firm under the Ministry of Finance that serves as an incubator and developer to Malaysia’s start-up ecosystem, including early funding to ride-hailing service Grab (then MyTeksi).

Lab results taken from the scene of the crime suggest that foul play was at hand, after traces of petrol were found in various spots of the bedroom where Nazrin was found.

Speaking to Malay Mail, an inside source revealed that petrol was found on the victim’s head, along the bed-frame, the mattress, as well as his mobile phone last week. Police then ruled the case a murder; however, no further statements were given.

Nazrin’s death was initially thought to be a case of sudden death, with Fire Department officials being called to his house in Mutiara Damansara over a fire in the bedroom where he had retired to earlier to rest. Early media reports even suggested that it had been an exploding mobile phone that killed him.

Selangor Fire and Rescue clarified that at no time did they conclude, or suggest this in their investigations, and say that the suggestion of a phone causing his death had come from the victim’s family. Having come to such conclusions at the time, without looking into the matter, would have been premature, said Selangor Fire director Azmi Osman.

At the time, Cradle issued a statement (incorrectly) confirming that Nazrin had died from blast injuries from an exploding mobile phone that had been charging next to him. Allegedly, this was based on unverified information from the victim’s family with erroneous details that included a device overheating, exploding, and causing blunt force trauma to the back of Nazrin’s head, resulting in his death.

The message went on to say that Nazrin was already dead when his bed caught fire, and burned his body.

That’s a whole lotta detail for something investigators are now saying didn’t quite happen that way.

Officials are now clarifying that immediately following the incident, they had only concluded that Nazrin was killed in a fire in his double-story terrace house, and died of smoke inhalation. There were burns to 30% of his body.

Nazrin, a prominent figure in Malaysia’s closely-knit start-up scene, left behind a wife and four children.


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