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BY KENNY CHEE
FORMER Romanian charge d'affaires Silviu Ionescu had been drinking "quite a lot" on Dec 14, said the Korean woman who had been with him that night.
This was hours before the embassy's car was involved in two traffic accidents in December. Testifying yesterday on the first day of the coroner's inquiry into the death of Mr Tong Kok Wai, 30, who was knocked down on the morning of Dec 15 and died days later in hospital, the woman said in a statement that she had met Dr Ionescu earlier, on Dec 5, at an Esplanade performance.
The accidents left two other men injured and the car that knocked them down was identified as the Romanian Embassy's car, a black Audi A6 with the licence plate S3401CD.
The woman, Ms Jeong Ae Ree, 40, is an opera singer and voice teacher. She is a Singapore permanent resident. She said that she accepted an invitation from Dr Ionescu to attend a reception at the Shangri-La Hotel on Dec 14. Ms Jeong said that Dr Ionescu, 49, picked her up on Dec 14 at around 7pm in a black Audi car that had the letters "CD" on its number plate and was driven by a chauffeur.
At the event, Ms Jeong said that Dr Ionescu had "a few glasses of white wine".
After the event at about 9pm, he invited her to a birthday party. The car, driven by the same driver, took them to a condominium that Dr Ionescu said he lived in.
The driver got out of the car and removed the state flag on the vehicle and Dr Ionescu took over the driver's seat. He then drove Ms Jeong to Clarke Quay where they sat outside a Turkish restaurant and watched a belly-dancing performance.
Ms Jeong said that he had two shots of tequila there. Around midnight on Dec 15, they left for the Legend Palace KTV at Peace Centre, where Dr Ionescu parked the car at the mall's carpark.
At the KTV, where the birthday party was held, they went to a room with a group of Chinese men and women, and Ms Jeong said that Dr Ionescu had a "few glasses of a drink, which was probably a mixture of Coke and alcohol spirits".
When State Coroner Victor Yeo asked for clarification on the drinks at the KTV, Ms Jeong said, in accented English, that the drinks looked alcoholic as there were liquor-like bottles in the room.
She added that she was offered a drink but as it was "very sweet" she could not tell if there was any alcohol in it as she had had some wine and tequila earlier.
After several requests from Ms Jeong, Dr Ionescu agreed to take her home around 2am. She added that she reached home before 3am.