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Malaysian diplomat in sex assault case set to return to NZ

The Star/ANN | Thursday, Oct 23, 2014

Muhammad Rizalman Ismail

PETALING JAYA - New Zealand media reported that former second warrant officer Muhammad Rizalman Ismail would be returning to the country to face sexual assault charges on Saturday, but Malaysian authorities have yet to confirm this.

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman declined to comment on a report in New Zealand news portal, stuff.co.nz, that Rizalman was scheduled to depart Malaysia tomorrow night for Wellington.

"We will be issuing a statement on this tomorrow (today)," Anifah said when contacted by The Star yesterday.

The news portal reported that Rizalman would be escorted by New Zealand police officers on the flight and would be taken to Wellington District Court to face the charges upon landing.

Rizalman, who was with the Malaysian High Commission in the New Zealand capital, was accused of burglary and assault with intent to rape Tania Billingsley, 21, at her home on May 9.

Rizalman was charged by the police the following day but left New Zealand on May 22 after Malaysia invoked his diplomatic immunity.

He underwent psychiatric evalua­tion at the Tuanku Mizan Military Hospital and was discharged at the end of July.

Wisma Putra confirmed earlier this month that an official extradition request from New Zealand had been forwarded to the Home Ministry and Attorney-General's Chambers.

Malaysia has no formal extradition treaty with New Zealand but stuff.co.nz reported the necessary legal procedures had been completed to allow Rizalman to return.

The New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said the two countries had agreed to commit to the process and had been sharing documents to facilitate the complex legal process.

"The matter is now entirely in the hands of the judicial systems of both countries," said New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully.

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