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Archive for April 17, 2010

Newsline: Singapore MFA reiterates that Ionescu cannot now claim immunity for accident

Romania’s former Charge d’Affaires, Dr Silviu Ionescu, does not now enjoy and cannot now claim immunity for last December’s accident. Singapore’s Foreign Ministry (MFA) responded to media queries as to why if Dr Ionescu does not enjoy diplomatic immunity as the MFA spokesman had said, he was not prevented from leaving the country or arrested after the accident of 15 December 2009. The MFA spokesman replied: “We should not confuse the privileges and immunities which diplomats enjoy during their posting in a country to which they are accredited, with the privileges and immunities they enjoy after leaving the country of accreditation at the end of their postings.” The MFA spokesman added that even if Dr Ionescu did not leave Singapore after the accident, as an accredited diplomat, Singapore cannot arrest him unless the Romanian government waives his immunity. His immunity then covered anything he did, whether official or private. Dr Ionescu left Singapore on December 18 last year, three days after the accident. The MFA spokesman pointed out that at that time, he was still a diplomat officially accredited to Singapore and therefore could not be prevented from leaving. “The situation now is different and a different provision of the Vienna Convention now applies,” the spokesman said. “Article 39.2 of the Vienna Convention stipulates that, after a diplomat’s posting ends and he leaves his country of accreditation, some of his privileges and immunities would also end. “To be more specific, while he would still enjoy immunity for official acts, he would no longer enjoy immunity for private acts.” The Romanian government has now officially withdrawn Dr Ionescu from Singapore, thus ending his posting with effect from January 5 this year. “He is now no longer an accredited diplomat in Singapore,” the spokesman added. The Coroner’s Inquiry has concluded that Dr Ionescu was the driver of the vehicle that caused the accident and that he was acting in a private capacity and engaged in private and not official activity at that time. The ministry’s spokesman explained that therefore, Dr Ionescu does not now enjoy and cannot now claim immunity for the accident. Diplomatic immunity is no longer a relevant issue. “We have stressed to the Romanian government many times that it should persuade Dr Ionescu to return to Singapore to stand trial or, if this is not possible, to expeditiously investigate and prosecute him under Romanian law,” the spokesman said. “It is not in Romania’s own interest to allow the actions of one individual to continue to disgrace the entire country,” he said.