The return of a Malaysian diplomat to New Zealand to face a
sex charge seems far from certain, as his doctors last night
warned he may not be well enough to travel.
Muhammad Rizalman bin Ismail has been in a military hospital
since Tuesday. Malaysian authorities had earlier said he
could be sent back tomorrow after medical checks.
But last night a source at Tuanku Mizan Military Hospital
near Kuala Lumpur told the Herald on Sunday Rizalman was "not
looking good" and might need further tests.
He seemed withdrawn and depressed, the hospital staffer said.
A senior doctor at the hospital confirmed the 38-year-old
might need further psychiatric evaluation.
The Herald on Sunday last week revealed Rizalman invoked
diplomatic immunity after being charged with burglary and
assault with intent to rape. The issue became an
embarrassment for our Government, which allowed him to leave.
It was revealed Foreign Minister Murray McCully and Prime
Minister John Key were briefed about the May 9 incident in
Wellington, but did nothing until the Herald on Sunday made
inquiries last week.
An MFAT inquiry is under way amid apologies from McCully and
MFAT boss John Allen. McCully had said New Zealand wanted
Malaysia to waive immunity, but it emerged MFAT had not made
A decision on whether Rizalman is fit to stand trial rests
with the Malaysian Government, and last night McCully could
not give assurances the diplomat would return. The twist
comes as fresh details emerge of the alleged offending.
It is alleged Rizalman followed a 21-year-old woman from a
bus stop to her home in Brooklyn.
He allegedly broke into the house and undressed. The woman
had fought her alleged attacker off and neighbours went to
The married father of three is alleged to have fled the house
but waited outside for police to show up.
McCully refused to comment last night, saying the case was
before the courts.
Labour's foreign affairs spokesman David Shearer said the
Malaysian Government had to be trusted to make a fair
"We've also got a victim here as well who deserves justice
and I think it would be the right thing to have him brought
The New Straits Times reported Rizalman was being closely
guarded by army security personnel in a four-bed room he
Security cameras were also in the room. A reporter who caught
a glimpse of Rizalman said he appeared to be in a daze.
A hospital staff member said those on 24-hour guard and
closed-circuit television watch were "at-risk patients".
Meanwhile, Malaysian Defence Minister Hishammudin Hussein
said he supported the decision to hand Rizalman over to New
Speaking to reporters after breaking Ramadan fast on Friday,
he said justice had to be done and seen to be done to ensure
Malaysia's credibility and image was upheld internationally.
"But I hope society does not prejudge the accused as guilty
until the New Zealand court comes to a decision," he said.
- Lincoln Tan, Amy Maas and Bevan Hurley