Muhammed Rizalman Bin Ismail
The Malaysian diplomat at the centre of the sex-case
scandal will return to New Zealand to face charges for sexual
assault, the Malaysian Government confirmed late last night.
In a dramatic twist to the case, Malaysian Foreign Minister
Anifah Aman confirmed that warrant officer Muhammed Rizalman
Bin Ismail would be sent back to this country, where there is
an active warrant for his arrest. He would be accompanied by
a military escort.
New Zealand's Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said Mr
Anifah confirmed the decision in a phone call last night. "I
want to convey my thanks to the Malaysian Government for this
very welcome development which underlines the good faith and
integrity with which they have approached this issue.
"There was never any intention by either government to let
this matter rest, and regardless of whether the process took
place in Malaysia or New Zealand there was a strong
commitment to seeing justice done.
"The young woman involved has been through a great deal and
the way this matter has been handled has only added to her
suffering. I hope she, and her family, will welcome news that
the accused will return to New Zealand so the matter can be
fully investigated as was always the Government's intention."
A statement released by the Malaysian Government said: "It is
of the view that this decision will provide an opportunity
for Mr Muhammed Rizalman to co-operate fully and assist the
New Zealand authorities in the ongoing investigations on the
allegations made against him.
"In this regard, the legal principle that one is considered
innocent until proven guilty should apply to Mr Muhammed
The Malaysian Government would provide legal assistance if
The warrant officer and former staff member at the Malaysian
High Commission has been charged with burglary and intent to
rape, which are punishable by up to 10 years' jail.
He was arrested on May 9, accused of following a 21-year-old
Wellington woman home and assaulting her.
He was charged and appeared the following day in Wellington
District Court. Ismail claimed diplomatic immunity and
returned to Malaysia on May 22.
The New Zealand Government has maintained that it always
wanted Ismail to remain in the country and face the charges.
But miscommunication between New Zealand and Malaysian
officials led to Malaysia believing that repatriating
Rizalman and trying him under a military court was acceptable
to New Zealand.
Meanwhile, the complainant said she was "angry" she had been
forgotten in a high-level international row.
The 21-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons,
talked to Green MP Jan Logie because she had spoken in
Parliament about sexual violence.
She told the MP police had warned she may have to give
evidence in Malaysia if Rizalman was not extradited.
Ms Logie said the young woman had been watching parliamentary
debates on television and was appalled by the focus of
discussion about the case.
"Right at the moment she's running on adrenaline and is
angry. She's been listening to all of these debates where
she's been reduced down to the phrase 'the victim'. What she
sees is the real issue - the fact that the system didn't
listen to her, and has effectively been setting up to deny
her justice. She gets the connection to that and a lot of
other people's experience and she's angry."
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Mfat) chief executive
John Allen apologised to the woman yesterday "for the turmoil
that she has had to suffer".
When he returned to Malaysia, Rizalman was in a military
hospital in Kuala Lumpur for psychiatric observation to
assess his mental and emotional condition.