Diplomat to face inquiry in Malaysia for alleged crimes in New Zealand

Minister of Foreign Affairs Datuk Seri Anifah Aman during the press conference at Wisma Putra on the alleged offences committed by a Malaysian Defence Staff Assistant at the High Commisssion of Malaysia in New Zealand. -- PHOTO: THE STAR/ ASIA NEWS N
Minister of Foreign Affairs Datuk Seri Anifah Aman during the press conference at Wisma Putra on the alleged offences committed by a Malaysian Defence Staff Assistant at the High Commisssion of Malaysia in New Zealand. -- PHOTO: THE STAR/ ASIA NEWS NETWORK

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Despite an earlier tussle over where he should face charges, diplomatic aide Muhammad Rizalman Ismail, who is accused of sexual assault and burglary in New Zealand, is set to be tried in Malaysia.

The Warrant Officer 2 will face a Board of Inquiry set up by the Defence Ministry and if the accusations are found to be true, he will be court-martialled.New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully, who spoke to Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman on Tuesday, conceded that Malaysia had acted "entirely in good faith".

He said his ministry had provided him the official correspondence on the matter between both countries.

"While the formal request is absolutely unambiguous in seeking the lifting of immunity, it is now clear to me that officials engaged in informal communications over what is a complex case, in a manner that would have been ambiguous to the Malaysian Government. I can say the Malaysian side has acted entirely in good faith," he said in a statement.

There had earlier been contradictory statements with New Zealand denying a Malaysian statement that the diplomatic staff member had been allowed to return home. Instead, the New Zealand authorities released correspondence between the two sides.

According to the correspondence, New Zealand had asked Malaysia to waive diplomatic immunity for Rizalman but the Malaysian side had refused to do so.Instead, Malaysia asked New Zealand to withdraw all charges against him and seal all documentation on the matter.

Mr McCully said on Tuesday that there had been other communication between the two sides which led to Malaysia later recalling the diplomatic staff member. He said the Malaysian foreign minister was absolutely committed to the alleged offender facing a proper judicial process.

"The individual concerned is a military person and the Malaysian Chief of Defence Force has established a Board of Inquiry process," he said, adding that Mr Anifah had also assured him that any material provided by New Zealand Police would be placed before the Board of Inquiry.

"The minister made it clear that he would not allow the actions of one individual to tarnish the reputation of all Malaysian diplomats," added Mr McCully.

He said Mr Anifah had been in constant communication with him and had clarified any misunderstanding.

Mr McCully said he had emphasised to his Malaysian counterpart New Zealand's commitment to justice for the victim in this case, and that Mr Anifah had assured him that the Malaysian Government shared the same view.

Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein later tweeted that a decision on Rizalman's extradition would be made in the next few days. He gave assurance that anyone who was in the wrong would not be above the law.