Ionescu still has 'immunity' The Straits Times Apr 26, 2010 By Teh Joo Lin ROMANIA sent Singapore a diplomatic note last Friday asserting that former charge d'affaires Silviu Ionescu continues to enjoy diplomatic immunity for the hit-and-run case of Dec 15. This is puzzling, said Foreign Minister George Yeo, as 'it seems to imply that Romania is now claiming that Dr Ionescu was engaged in official duties at the time of the accident and we do not understand how this can possibly be the case'. On the other hand, Romanian media reports suggest that the Romanian police may be preparing to arrest the suspended diplomat. The police there have told Interpol that they have the competence to prosecute him and they have started criminal proceedings against him. 'With these conflicting accounts, the sooner the Romanian legal experts visit us to clarify the situation, exchange views and review the evidence with our legal experts, the better,' said Mr Yeo. He was speaking in Parliament on Monday in response to a question from MP Irene Ng (Tampines GRC) who asked for about the case. A Coroner's Court had found that Ionescu was behind the wheel of a car that hit three pedestrians along Bukit Panjang Road on Dec 15. One of them later died. Following this, Singapore issued an arrest warrant for Ionescu, and Interpol issued a red notice against him. The notice requests all Interpol member states to look out for him and arrest him, with a view to his extradition. The Government had also said that based on the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Rights, Ionescu was not protected by diplomatic immunity for his deeds. Based on Article 39(2), a diplomat loses immunity for private acts once he leaves his post in the host country. On Monday, Mr Yeo told Parliament that the red notice has been suspended because of the disagreement over the intepretation of the article. In his speech, Mr Yeo also noted that other diplomats in Singapore have told the Government that Dr Ionescu has disgraced the entire diplomatic corps. 'Romania is a member state of the European Union which prides itself on its reputation as a community of values. Bucharest understands that more than Romania's own reputation is at stake and that it must live up to the EU's high standards,' added Mr Yeo.