Singapore hit-and-run: Ex-diplomat Ionescu to appeal sentence, says lawyer

BUCHAREST (AFP) - A Bucharest court sentenced a former Romanian diplomat to three years in prison on Wednesday for a 2009 deadly hit-and-run accident in Singapore.

Silviu Ionescu, who was Romania's charge d'affaires in Singapore, was found guilty of hitting three pedestrians in December 2009 while driving a car belonging to the Romanian mission. One of the pedestrians, a 30-year-old Malaysian, died.

His lawyer told AFP he will appeal.

"The court condemns Ionescu Silviu for manslaughter... inflicting injuries and fleeing from the location where the crash took place," the judgement said.

His lawyer told AFP that Ionescu - who was not present in court for the sentencing - will appeal.

"I am disappointed, not for myself but for Romania and Romanian justice, seeing that a sentence can be handed in the absence of any evidence whatsoever," Ionescu told AFP by telephone.

"The sentence does not affect me, even if it is upheld on appeal, because I have reconciled myself to the idea (of going to prison), I have already been detained."

Ionescu, whose trial started in October 2010, was detained between May and November of that year.

He said he had "some hope, not much" that the appeal will be heard "without (the judge) taking into consideration suggestions from the outside."

The ex-diplomat has repeatedly alleged that he was framed by the Singapore authorities because of critical reports he sent to the Romanian foreign ministry as head of the diplomatic mission in the city-state.

In Romania, a convict does not go to jail until the sentence has been upheld on appeal.

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

Ionescu, who fled Singapore shortly after the accident, has always claimed the Romanian mission's car was stolen.

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