By Goh Chin Lian
AN ONLINE petition has been set up calling on the Romanian government and its embassy here to cooperate with the Singapore authorities to investigate a recent hit-and-run accident which left one man dead.
The petition also called for payouts to be made to the families of the three victims of the Dec 15 incident. There were 269 signatures at press time last night.
Research engineer William Teo, 31, who was the fifth person to sign the petition, told The Sunday Times: 'There is a need for the common Singaporean to express outrage at the entire incident to put pressure on parties on both sides. At times, things can get too clinical if we leave it merely to the respective governments.'
Embassy car crash: Taxi driver says he picked up Dr Ionescu near site of accidents
By Teh Joo Lin & Melissa Sim
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.
When they reached Cluny Park Road, he was asked to go to River Valley Road and then Grange Heights - a condominium in the River Valley area.
The trip ended at 4.05am and his early-morning return in the taxi was confirmed by witnesses at the condominium.
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.
Dr Ionescu's wife told The New Paper that she last spoke to her husband on Tuesday. Saying she was unaware of the accident, she added that Dr Ionescu had returned to Romania to seek treatment for heart problems.
Dr Ionescu studied economics at the Academy of Economic Studies in Bucharest and earned a doctorate in sociology at the University of Bucharest.
The 49-year-old held various diplomatic positions in countries such as the United States and Greece before coming to Singapore.
He is fluent in both English and French and has two adult children, aged 21 and 22, according to his curriculum vitae.
When contacted, a Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman said it was conducting its own internal investigation alongside that of the Singapore authorities.
'We will be able to give information on this case when the investigations are finalised,' said the spokesman.
This article was first published in The Straits Times.