Romanian court to hand sentence in Singapore hit-and-run case

BUCHAREST (AFP) - A Romanian court said on Tuesday that it will issue next week its sentence in a 2009 deadly hit-and-run accident caused by a former Romanian diplomat.

"The judge should announce the sentence on March 27," Viorela Ferencz, spokeswoman for the Bucharest court, told AFP.

She added, however, that the decision could be delayed if the judge requests more time to study the case.

Silviu Ionescu, who was Romania's charge d'affaires in Singapore, allegedly hit three pedestrians there while driving a car belonging to the Romanian mission on the night of December 15, 2009.

One of the pedestrians, a 30-year-old Malaysian, died.

During closing arguments earlier this month, prosecutor Elisabeth Irimia asked the court to hand Ionescu a "medium sentence", without specifying how long it should be.

Ionescu's lawyer Nelu Tasca said sentences for manslaughter usually range between two and seven years in Romania.

The former diplomat's defence team argued during the trial that he should be acquitted on grounds there was no direct evidence linking him to the crime.

Ionescu, who fled the country shortly after the accident, has always claimed the car of the Romanian mission was stolen.

His trial started in October 2010 in Bucharest.

Ionescu has said that if convicted, he would likely file an appeal.