Muhammad Rizalman bin Ismail
A week before the Malaysian diplomat at the centre of an
alleged sex case left New Zealand, a police request to lift his
bail conditions was granted so he could have his passport and
be able to apply for travel documentation.
The details are among a tranche of court documents, released
An arrest warrant remains in place for Muhammad Rizalman bin
Ismail, 38, who is charged with burglary and assault with
intent to rape on May 9 in the Brooklyn home of Tania
Billingsley, who waived her automatic name suppression
earlier this week.
Rizalman was arrested on May 10. He applied for legal aid and
was granted bail on the same day. Among his bail conditions
were a curfew to be at his Newlands home from 7pm to 6am, not
to associate with Ms Billingsley, and to surrender his
passport to the Wellington District Court within two days and
not to apply for travel documentation.
Prime Minister John Key was briefed on May 12, the same day
the Malaysia High Commission met with the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs and police to discuss the case.
At a court hearing on May 15, court records note: "At the
request of police, bail conditions are removed -- [Rizalman]
now at large. Issue as to whether defendant has diplomatic
immunity being looked into."
A week later, on May 22, Rizalman flew back to Malaysia.
On May 29, an email from police to court officials noted that
Rizalman had left New Zealand.
"The New Zealand authorities had no lawful powers to prevent
Mr Ismail's departure," the email from Blake Dawson from the
police prosecution service said.
By invoking diplomatic immunity, he noted that Rizalman had
no immunity from New Zealand courts and police would be
seeking the issue of an arrest warrant when the court heard
the case May 30.
He was granted continued name suppression, but this was
lifted on July 1.
In lifting the suppression, High Court Justice David Collins
also said police put the Wellington District Court in an
"unenviable position" by not earlier opposing continued name
suppression for Rizalman.
"With the benefit of hindsight, it would have been wiser for
the police to have focused on whether or not the statutory
criteria for interim name suppression applied," Justice
Collins said in his judgement.
The Government has admitted mistakes in handling the case. It
has maintained it always wanted Malaysia to waive diplomatic
immunity and for Rizalman to stand trial in New Zealand, but
an unofficial communication from an Mfat official led to a
belief from Malaysia that it was acceptable for immunity to
be invoked. Foreign Minister Murray McCully has also been
criticised for not being on top of the situation. Mfat is now
reviewing how the case was managed.
Rizalman remains in a Malaysian military hospital undergoing
psychological analysis, but is expected to be sent back to
New Zealand to face the charges.