Friday, April 16, 2010

MFA Did Not Request Immunity Waiver

It's a classic Catch-22 situation. Interpol, the international police organisation with 188 members, including Romania, has issued a red notice against former Romanian charge d'affaires Silviu Ionescu in relation to a hit-and-run accident on 15 December 2009. But diplomatic immunity prevents Ionescu from being arrested and brought back to Singapore to stand trial.

The Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs explains the reason for this stand-off:
"Romania, as the sending state, has not waived immunity from criminal jurisdiction in this case, and the Republic of Singapore as the receiving state, has not submitted any written request to that effect." In point of fact, the Singapore Minister of Foreign Affairs actually allowed Ionescu to fly home unencumbered even though Ionescu was the principal suspect in the fatal accident. A Singapore Police officer actually tesified in court that rules were bent to return the accident vehicle to Ionescu instead of compounding it as evidence per standard operation procedure.

Singapore MFA's limp excuse for their complaceny: "...with effect from Ionescu's recall, he no longer enjoys diplomatic immunity by Romania for the acts in question. Therefore, there there was no need for a waiver of diplomatic immunity by Romania and no need for Singapore to seek a waiver." For the record, Ionescu was recalled from his posting several days after he was allowed by the Singapore authorities to return home safely in Romania. Talk about closing the barn doors after the horse has bolted.

And oh, the Romanian Ministry of Justice also confirmed on last Friday, that the lack of an extradition treaty between the two countries prevents Ionescu to return here to answer charges, either as a diplomat or as a private citizen. Ouch!

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