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Night of revelry with wine and tequilaCCTV footage shows ex-diplomat at hotel and KTV loungeBy Elena Chong & Teh Joo Lin04 March 2010With Korean singing teacher Jeong Ae Ree - a woman he had met just days earlier - former Romanian diplomat Silviu Ionescu went on a night of revelry on Dec 14 last year.The couple started with wine at a function at the Shangri-La Hotel, then went on to Clarke Quay, where they had drinks at a Turkish restaurant and watched belly-dancing, before moving on to a karaoke lounge in Sophia Road for more drinks.Just hours later, a man was killed when he was run over by an Audi A6 embassy car that Dr Ionescu, 49, is said to have been driving.By that point, she was home and unaware of the accident, said Madam Jeong yesterday, elegantly dressed in black, at the start of a coroner’s inquest into the death of Mr. Tong Kok Wai, who was 30.It was only a week later that she realised what had happened, she said, when the police called her.No criminal charges have been filed against Dr Ionescu, the former Romanian charge d’affaires, who is in Romania, and as expected, did not show up at yesterday’s inquest.Mr. Alexandru Coseru, the acting charge d’affaires, was present at the hearing, at which 12 witnesses gave evidence.But the star witness of the day was Madam Jeong, 40.The singing teacher and opera singer described how she had ended up with Dr Ionescu on Dec 14. Both married, they had met only nine days earlier at a concert at the Esplanade Recital Studio. Later, she accepted his invitation to attend the Shangri-La function.That night, his driver, Mr. Marius Trusca, drove them to the hotel, where they started drinking wine at 7.30pm.About two hours later, Dr Ionescu dispensed with the driver at his condominium. From there, the diplomat drove Madam Jeong in the embassy’s Audi A6 to Clarke Quay, where they downed tequila shots at a Turkish restaurant, and then to more drinks at a birthday party at a karaoke lounge in Sophia Road.By the time they were done, it was 2am the next day.Aside from Madam Jeong’s testimony, details of where they were also emerged from security camera footage from the hotel and the Legend Palace KTV lounge in Sophia Road.The two appeared close, with Dr Ionescu’s arm draped over her shoulder in some clips. In another clip, they locked arms while walking.Madam Jeong said she asked to go home at 2am. By then, he had had a few glasses of wine and two tequila shots.She told the court that Dr Ionescu had also had a few drinks at the KTV lounge, but she was not sure whether or not they were alcoholic. ‘It was probably a mixture of Coke and alcohol,’ she said.She said she was puzzled the next day, when he met her at about 1pm at her Hillcrest Arcadia condominium, and insisted he had been drinking only apple juice and Coca-Cola.In her statement, she said: ‘For reasons unknown to me, he tried to explain that he was only drinking juices and Coke the night before and nothing else. He even showed me some medication to prove that he is diabetic.’Madam Jeong said his explanation then was that he did not want her to think he drank ‘so much’.Asked by lawyer Subhas Anandan, for Mr. Tong’s family: ‘But you know deep inside he’s been drinking a lot?’‘That’s what I thought,’ she replied.Mr. Tong, a Malaysian, was pronounced brain dead three days after the accident and taken off life support on Christmas Day.The inquiry continues.
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