New Zealand names Malaysian diplomat in sex assault case

New Zealand names Malaysian diplomat in sex assault case

A New Zealand high court judge has lifted the suppression order protecting the Malaysian diplomat at the centre of a sex assault case in Wellington.

The diplomat is Muhammad Rizalman Ismail, a staff assistant with a defence portfolio at the Malaysian high commission, NZ news portal said today.

According to the portal, Rizalman holds the military rank of warrant officer and may face a military board of inquiry in Malaysia.

High court judge Justice David Collins was quoted as saying that the reasons for lifting the order would be given at a later time.

The reveal comes amid tension between Malaysia and New Zealand over the issue.

NZ foreign minister Murray McCully today warned that if the diplomat does not face the charges, it will affect relations between the country involved and New Zealand.

"It will have a bearing on how we deal with the country concerned," McCully told New Zealand daily The Dominion Post.

Wisma Putra, however, said that was not “protecting” the accused and had asked that police investigations in New Zealand be allowed to continue in the interest of justice.

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman, who is scheduled to hold a press conference on the issue today, said the diplomat would be returned to Wellington only if he was assured of a fair trial and that his life was not in danger there.

New Zealand yesterday revealed that it was pursuing the extradition of a diplomat who had been accused of "assault with intent to commit rape" in Wellington last month.

The diplomat, said to be in his 30s, was detained for having allegedly followed a 21-year-old woman to her house, then sexually assaulting her. He was also charged with burglary over the same incident.

But, the man “fled” New Zealand to return to his own country when he invoked diplomatic immunity after his arrest on May 9.

The identity of the diplomat and his nationality initially was not revealed by the media in New Zealand after a judge issued a suppression order on his details. – July 1, 2014.