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January 28, 2022

Diplomat Ionescu rejects Singapore coroner verdict

Former Singapore Romanian diplomat Silviu Ionescu dismissed the verdict of a Coroner Court blaming him for a fatal hit-and-run accident in the city-state, the Straits Times reported Thursday. The court found Wednesday that Silviu Ionescu, 49, the former charge d’affaires, drove the embassy car that hit three pedestrians on December 15, including Malaysian Tong Kok Wai, who later died of his injuries. Ionescu, who left Singapore for Romania three days after the accident, scoffed at evidence given by 54 witnesses at the March 3-10 coroner hearing, the newspaper said. The Singapore daily also quoted Ionescu as complaining that Tong, 30, was cremated three days after his death, which did not give him a chance to seek a second expert opinion on the cause of death. There is no extradition treaty between Singapore and Romania to bring Ionescu to Singapore to face charges, Tokyo-based Romanian Ambassador to Singapore Aurelian Neagu said, quoted by Mediafax. According to Romanian Ambassador, “there will be a lot of difficulties in starting legal procedure against Ionescu, and raising immunity is highly improbable.” The case stirred controversies among other diplomats in Singapore, as well. Romanian Silviu Ionescu proved to be the black sheep of the diplomatic community and behaved like a coward when he fled Singapore, senior diplomats told The Straits Times on Wednesday. They were concerned about a backlash from the coroner’s finding that the former Romanian charge d’affaires was responsible for last December’s hit-and-run accident which left a man dead. They feared that public anger against diplomats might escalate if people perceive diplomats as those who can get away scot-free after committing an offence because they have diplomatic immunity.

Polish Ambassador Waldemar Dubaniowski said on Wednesday that diplomats were generally law-abiding, and added: ‘Every group has a black sheep in its midst.’

He said he understood and sympathised with public unhappiness that it appeared as if Dr Ionescu had escaped justice.

But he noted the Romanian might yet be charged in his country, where he is being investigated for manslaughter over the death of Mr Tong Kok Wai, 30.

Yesterday, a press release from Singapore’s Foreign Ministry wrote: “ We can see Silviu Ionescu is still an employee of the Romanian Foreign Ministry, although suspended from his position. We do hope the Ambassador will make a clear dissociation of Romanian Government from Silviu Ionescu.”

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