Malaysian sex-case diplomat asks for delay in return to New Zealand

Mr Muhammad Rizalman Ismail, who was allowed to leave New Zealand after an alleged sexual assault in May 2014, will return to the country to face charges. -- PHOTO: THE STAR
Mr Muhammad Rizalman Ismail, who was allowed to leave New Zealand after an alleged sexual assault in May 2014, will return to the country to face charges. -- PHOTO: THE STAR

WELLINGTON - The Malaysian diplomat who is facing charges for sexual assault in New Zealand wants his return to the country to be deferred until after the Islamic fasting month.

A source in Kuala Lumpur has told the New Zealand Herald that Rizalman has asked to remain in the Malaysian capital until after Hari Raya, which falls on July 28 and marks the end of Ramadan.

However, it is understood the request will not be entertained, with a Malaysian foreign affairs official saying the diplomatic corps warrant officer will be sent back "as soon as possible", the newspaper reported.

A doctor at the Tuanku Mizan Military Hospital, where Rizalman is being held for tests on his mental and emotional condition, said he would not be discharged until the medical examinations were complete.

"We are still waiting for the reports to the tests and then the doctors still need to write their report," the doctor was quoted as saying.

"It would take more than a couple of days, so it's highly unlikely Rizalman will go before the weekend."

The Herald understands the diplomat has a history of depression. His wife and three children are being housed at a military apartment near the hospital and visit him daily.

A senior military officer from Malaysia will accompany the former defence staff assistant at the Malaysia High Commission back to New Zealand.

Malaysian Foreign Affairs Minister Anifah Aman said the Malaysian Government would provide legal assistance to Rizalman if necessary.

The Government said Rizalman was expected to return "within a matter of days, not a matter of weeks".

There is an active warrant for his arrest in New Zealand, and police said he would be arrested at the border as soon as he arrives in the country and taken to the nearest court.

Green MP Jan Logie, who has been speaking to the victim, said the 21-year-old woman had welcomed the decision to have Rizalman tried in New Zealand.

"She is pleased that he will be coming back to New Zealand to face justice," said Logie.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister John Key has directly criticised the deputy chief of protocol who gave Malaysia the impression that New Zealand was happy for Rizalman to leave the country and escape the charges.

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