Romanian diplomat Silviu Ionescu: a suspect in a hit-and-run case (and by 'run', it means leaving the country?!)

Will diplomatic immunity be applicable to Dr Silviu Ionescu, the Romanian diplomat if he were ever convicted guilty in the hit-and-run case which involved 3 victims (of whom one has died)?

From the way this diplomat claimed that his embassy car was stolen at the time it was involved (very convenient timing, don't you think?), I believe--and hope that I'm not mistaken--that Dr Silviu Ionescu might not enjoy such privilege of diplomatic immunity.

See, if he's indeed guilty (but enjoy the diplomatic immunity), he won't have the need to claim that his embassy car was stolen, right?

Moreover, which thief in his/her right mind, after stealing a car, would try to make a scene by hitting THREE people?!

A car believed to be from a foreign embassy was involved in a hit-and-run accident in Bukit Panjang Road early on Tuesday, hitting three people at two different traffic junctions.

Police said that the car first hit two pedestrians who were crossing the junction of Bukit Panjang Road and Bangkit Road at about 3am.

Mr Tong Kok Wai, 30, and Mr Bong Hwee Haw, 24, suffered head injuries and were taken to the National University Hospital (NUH). Mr Tong is in the intensive care unit while Mr Bong is in a surgical high dependency ward.

Instead of stopping, the car continued on its path of destruction. Witnesses said it beat another red light 100m ahead at the cross-junction of Bukit Panjang Road and Pending Road.

There, it hit another pedestrian, Mr Muhamad Haris Abu Talib, 18, before speeding off.

Mr Haris was also taken to NUH with leg pain.

From Straits Times, "Embassy car in hit-and-run". (16/12/09)

THE Romanian diplomat who claimed that his embassy car was stolen at the time it was involved in a hit-and-run accident a fortnight ago is now a suspect in the case.

Dr Silviu Ionescu, the charge d'affaires of the Romanian Embassy in Singapore, has not been ruled out as the person behind the wheel of the Audi car in the early morning hit-and-run.

One of the three men who was hit in the Bukit Panjang accident has died.

In response to queries on Dr Ionescu on Tuesday, the police would only say they had 'not ruled out any suspect surfaced in the course of our investigations'.

Investigations were still under way with officers 'following up on all available leads'. The police had earlier written to the embassy asking for more details on the accident.

Checks by The Straits Times revealed that Dr Ionescu left the country sometime last week. Attempts to reach him on his Singapore mobile have been unsuccessful.

From Straits Times, "Diplomat a suspect". (30/12/09)



Update on 01/01/10: Silviu Ionescu is reported to have legal immunity under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. A taxi driver comes forward with a fresh evidence against the diplomat.

A taxi driver has come forward to say he had picked up a Romanian diplomat from a suburban industrial estate where his embassy's stolen car was found after a fatal hit-and-run accident, it was reported Friday. The cabby, who only wanted to be identified as Neo, had picked up Dr Silviu Ionescu, the highest ranking Romanian diplomat in Singapore, at 3:33 am on December 15, and took him to various destinations before alighting him at a condominium estate.

Neo has also produced a fare receipt of the trip made by Ionescu and says the diplomat had made a police report of a missing car while in his taxi, according to a report in The Straits Times.

Ionescu is now a suspect in the fatal hit-and-run accident around 3:10 am on December 15. The embassy car was found in the Sungai Kadut industrial estate about five kilometres away from the accident, which left one person dead from severe brain damage and two others injured.

The 49-year-old diplomat, who has held various positions in several countries including the United States, has left Singapore for home for diabetes and heart treatments.

Police investigators have said they have not ruled out any suspect in the hit-and-run accident around 3 am on December 15.

The man who died was 31-year-old Tan Kok Wai, who suffered severe brain damage and died 10 days later when taken off life support at a local hospital.

Ionescu has legal immunity under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

From Earth Times, "Report: Taxi driver puts Romanian diplomat near hit-and-run scene".

FRESH evidence has surfaced to put the Romanian embassy's charge d'affaires in the Sungei Kadut area where the embassy's car - which was involved in a fatal hit-and-run accident - was found abandoned later that morning.

A cabby yesterday told The Straits Times that he had picked up Dr Silviu Ionescu, the highest ranking Romanian embassy official in Singapore, at 3am-3.30am on Dec 15 in the Sungei Kadut area, after Dr Ionescu had flagged him down.

The industrial area is about 5km from Bukit Panjang, where the embassy's Audi A6 car hit three pedestrians at about 3.10am. One victim, who suffered severe brain damage, has since died.

The taxi driver who picked up Dr Ionescu told The Straits Times he had seen a Caucasian man wearing a jacket at the junction of Sungei Kadut Avenue and Woodlands Road and had slowed to a halt. He later told the police that his passenger was Dr Ionescu.

Upon entering the cab, Dr Ionescu told the driver to head to Bukit Timah. But when they reached Bukit Timah, the cabby was told to head to Cluny Park Road.

About 10 minutes into the cab ride, Dr Ionescu asked the cabby how he could contact the police. The cabby said he told him to call 999.

The cabby, who wanted to be known only as Mr Neo, said Dr Ionescu then called the police and said his car had gone missing. He then made another call, which Mr Neo said was in a foreign language. Mr Neo said he was unable to smell any alcohol on Dr Ionescu's breath.

From Straits Times, "New evidence surfaces".

Also from the same Straits Times article:

Why cabby kept taxi receipt

Mr Neo, who usually throws away receipts, said he kept it this time because he 'felt weird when he (the passenger) asked how to contact the police'.

He said he had thought of reporting the incident to the police, but decided against it, and brushed it off until he received a call from his company about a week ago.

'They said the police wanted me to help with investigations,' said the 50-year-old, who went to the Traffic Police Headquarters in Ubi to give his statement.

Dr Ionescu told reporters he had discovered his Audi A6 missing at about 3am, after walking out of his embassy at Jalan Harom Setangkai, near Farrer Road. Shortly before 4am, he lodged a police report about the missing vehicle.

He claimed to have parked the car outside the gates at 1.30am after visiting a karaoke lounge in Peace Centre to meet some businessmen. Several hours after he lodged the police report, the car was found outside a factory in Sungei Kadut Avenue in Kranji.

When contacted, the police said investigations were still on-going.

The police had earlier said they had 'not ruled out any suspect surfaced in the course of our investigations'. The whereabouts of Dr Ionescu, who is believed to have left Singapore three days after the accident, remains unclear.

Attempts to contact him on both his Singapore mobile phone, and at one of his residences in Romania have drawn a blank.

The embassy's economic counsellor, Mr Alexandru Nicole Coseru, told The Straits Times that his colleague was back in Romania because he was ill and suffering from diabetes. He does not know his colleague's exact whereabouts.


And from Asiaone with its interestingly named article. (From a hit and run case, it turns out to be a crash?!)
FRESH evidence has surfaced to put the Romanian embassy's charge d'affaires in the Sungei Kadut area where the embassy's car - which was involved in a fatal hit-and-run accident - was found abandoned later that morning.

A cabby yesterday told The Straits Times that he had picked up Dr Silviu Ionescu, the highest ranking Romanian embassy official in Singapore, at 3am-3.30am on Dec 15 in the Sungei Kadut area, after Dr Ionescu had flagged him down.

The industrial area is about 5km from Bukit Panjang, where the embassy's Audi A6 car hit three pedestrians at about 3.10am.

Central to the incident is the black Audi A6 belonging to the Romanian embassy. Dr Ionescu had earlier said that he was the last official to use the car involved in the accident.

However, he also reportedly said he was not involved in the fatal hit and run. He said he will return to Singapore later this month to assist in investigations.

One of the three pedestrians involved, 30-year-old Mr Tong Kok Wai, has since passed away. At the time of the accident, Mr Tong had been married to Madam Yenni Young for merely a month. He was taken off life support on Christmas Day, after suffering severe brain damage in the accident



What happened on Dec 15

1.30 am: Dr Silviu Ionescu parks his car in front of his embassy, off Farrer Road, he says, after returning to work from a karaoke session with some businessmen in Peace Centre.

About 3 am: He leaves the embassy, he claims, only to find his car missing from where he parked it.

About 3.10 am: The Audi hits three men in Bukit Panjang before speeding off. One man has since died.

3.33 am: A taxi picks up Dr Ionescu in the Sungei Kadut area, not far from where his car is later found abandoned.

From Asiaone, "Embassy car crash: New evidence surfaces".



Update on 02/01/10: The suspect Dr Silviu Ionescue could be back to his post in Singapore in late January.

The Romanian embassy's charge d'affaires, who's suspected to be involved in a tragic hit-and-run accident, could be back to his post in Singapore in late January.

Dr Silviu Ionescu told a Romanian news website that he returned to Bucharest after the incident for some medical examinations which had been scheduled in advance.

The 49-year-old diplomat also stressed he had no connection with the accident, and hopes the perpetrator is found as soon as possible.

On 15 December 2009, the embassy's car, a black Audi A6, hit three pedestrians at about 3.10 am in Bukit Panjang.

At 3.50am, Dr Ionescu filed a police report saying his vehicle had been stolen.

One victim, 30-year-old Tong Kok Wai, suffered severe brain damage and died on Christmas day.

His friend, 24-year-old Bong Hwee Haw is still recovering in hospital, while the third victim who suffered leg and neck injuries has been discharged.

Police said investigations are still ongoing and would not rule out any suspect in the course of its investigations.

From Channel NewsAsia, "Romanian Embassy's Charge d'Affaires says he will return to S'pore in late Jan".



Update on 17/01/10: Too early to pin guilt in hit-and-run case? Indeed.

IT IS not right or appropriate for the Singapore Government to determine guilt in the ongoing investigations related to a hit-and-run accident involving a Romanian embassy car, said Law Minister K. Shanmugam yesterday.

But it is right for the Government to investigate the facts, put them forward and take the appropriate steps, he told reporters after a dialogue with Yew Tee residents.

"There is no question of us not going through the facts carefully or trying to shield anyone, or not following due processes," he said, stressing the need for fairness.

Mr Shanmugam was replying to a question a resident had posed on the Government's apparent silence on the accident.

Earlier this month, Foreign Affairs Minister George Yeo said that due process must be allowed to take its course for the case.

The accident occurred last month in Bukit Panjang. It left one man dead and two men injured. Mr Shanmugam said that the police would "investigate without fear or favour" and that, in the next step, the Attorney-General would "proceed only if he believes that a case can be made in court with witnesses beyond reasonable doubt".

From Asiaone, "Romanian diplomat case: Don't jump to conclusions".

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