By Kenny Chee
FORMER Romanian diplomat Silviu Ionescu was just metres from a black embassy car with a shattered windscreen on the morning of Dec 15 last year, said a taxi driver in court yesterday.
Relief driver Mohd Salihen Wahab, 40, said on the second day of the coroner's inquiry into the death of Mr Tong Kok Wai, 30, that he spotted Dr Ionescu at 3.20am.
This was after two hit-and-run accidents involving Romanian Embassy car S3401CD earlier at about 3.10am.
Mr Salihen was driving his taxi along Sungei Kadut Avenue when he saw a Caucasian man in a black jacket and tie walking in his direction.
He later identified the man as Dr Ionescu, 49, from a photo of him published in a Dec 17 copy of The New Paper.
"He was about 3m away from a stationary black car, which was parked at the front gate of a building," said Mr Salihen.
He said that he thought the former diplomat would flag down his taxi, so he slowed his driving speed. Dr Ionescu
turned his head to look at Mr Salihen when the cabby drove near, but did not hail the taxi.
Instead, he continued walking in the direction of Woodlands Road.
Mr Salihen said he thought it was odd for a man in a suit like Dr Ionescu to be walking along a deserted road so early in the day.
The cabby then noted that the stationary car that was near Dr Ionescu had the letters "CD" on the number plate, and thus knew the vehicle was an embassy car.
Later, at about 3.30am, cabby Neo Hock Beng, 50, picked up Dr Ionescu. Mr Neo told the court that he stopped his taxi at the T-junction of Woodlands Road and Sungei Kadut Avenue when he saw Dr Ionescu there.
The Romanian told Mr Neo he wanted to go to Bukit Timah Road but, along the way, changed his destination to
Cluny Park Road, then River Valley Road.
Finally, he told the cabby to go to Grange Heights condominium near St Thomas Walk, where Dr Ionescu alighted
Ten to 15 minutes after Dr Ionescu boarded his taxi, Mr Neo heard him call someone on his cellphone and say in English that his car had gone missing.
He later made another call and spoke in a foreign language.
The State Counsel presented a transcript and a recording of a 999 call, made on Dec 15 at 3.47am, where a man in accented English said that his diplomatic car, numbered 3401CD, had gone missing an hour ago.
Rounding up the 18 witnesses who testified yesterday was the third victim in the hit-and-run accident on Dec 15.
ITE student Muhammad Haris Abu Talib, 18, was hit by a black car at about 3.10am while he and his brother and friends were at a cross-junction of Bukit Panjang Road and Bukit Panjang Ring Road.
More eyewitnesses to the accidents are expected to take the stand today.
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