Delay extraditing rape-accused diplomat

AIMEE GULLIVER
Last updated 18:07 07/07/2014
Muhammad Rizalman bin Ismail
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FLED NEW ZEALAND: Muhammad Rizalman bin Ismail

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The Malaysian Government is making arrangements to extradite the diplomat accused of a sexual crime back to New Zealand, its defence minister says.

The diplomat, Muhammad Rizalman bin Ismail, remains in hospital undergoing psychiatric evaluation.

Malaysian Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein declined to reveal when military attache Rizalman would be sent back to New Zealand to be tried on charges of assault with intent to commit rape, and burglary.

Rizalman, 38, a former defence staff assistant with the Malaysian high commission in Wellington, allegedly followed a 21-year-old woman to her home in Brooklyn on May 9.

Rizalman had been expected to be flown back to New Zealand today, but remained at the Tuanku Mizan Military Hospital where he has been since Tuesday.

Hishammuddin said details of Rizalman's extradition were being worked out between the Malaysian attorney-general and the New Zealand high commission in Malaysia.

“What is wrong is wrong," Hishammuddin told reporters after opening a tribute photo exhibition to Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, which mysteriously went missing on March 8, at Publika Mall.

"That is why justice must not only be done, but must also be seen to be done – that is why we made the decision to send him back to New Zealand.” 

The New Zealand authorities had promised to treat Rizalman fairly in investigating the alleged incident, Hishammuddin said.

“When we talked about justice, it is not only to the accuser, but also to the accused.

“I hope that by returning Rizalman to New Zealand, he will not face trial by the media or by public opinion.

“He has to be looked after and the New Zealand authorities have assured us of that.”

Malaysian authorities said last week Rizalman would be sent to New Zealand to assist police with their ongoing investigation into the alleged attack.

The extradition decision followed diplomatic confusion between the two countries.

Malaysia invoked diplomatic immunity over the incident, seemingly in the belief it did so with the approval of the New Zealand Government.

Rizalman left New Zealand for Malaysia without facing trial.

Prime Minister John Key's “strong preference” had been for Rizalman to face justice in New Zealand.

However, unofficial communications from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade had left ambiguity about New Zealand's stance.

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