Malaysian diplomat's alleged sexual assault victim lashes out on national TV

This general view shows the exterior of the High Commission of Malaysia building in Wellington on July 1, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
This general view shows the exterior of the High Commission of Malaysia building in Wellington on July 1, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The woman who was allegedly sexually assaulted by a Malaysian diplomat aide in New Zealand wanted her name suppression lifted so that she could help address the problem of sexual violence in the country.

Tania Billingsley, 21, said she was "not a bystander" and that she had a lot to say about the assault.

"Because I'm hoping that in revealing who I am and having a face to put to this alleged victim that I'll be able to help address some of the issues around sexual violence in this country," she told New Zealand's Channel 3 News in an interview on Wednesday.

Warrant officer 2 Rizalman, a defence staff assistant with the Malaysian High Commission in New Zealand, is alleged to have sexually assaulted Billingsley at her home in Wellington.

He reportedly followed her back to her home in Brooklyn on the night of May 9 and is alleged to have assaulted her with the intent to rape.

Billingsley said that she first became aware of Rizalman's diplomatic status on May 11, which also happened to be her birthday.

"So I spent the morning of it in the police station being told that he was a diplomat," she said.

Rizalman, 38, returned to Malaysia on May 22 after the Malaysian High Commission reportedly turned down a request by New Zealand's Ministry of the Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) to seek a waiver of his diplomatic immunity in order for him to face charges there.

It was only on that day that Billingsley discovered that Rizalman was leaving the country.

"I found out that he was going to leave the day that he left. Up until then, the police had been really great at keeping me informed, but even they didn't know what to tell me.

"I got this call and it was like, 'Yeah, you know we just found out that he's leaving today.'

"Obviously I was frustrated and I was angry because I had from the very beginning said that I wanted him to stay in New Zealand and be held accountable here," she added.

Billingsley, also called for New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully to step down, saying her plight had been overlooked as McCully attempted to deal with the diplomatic fallout from the alleged attack by the Malaysian military attache, the AFP reported.

"He's so intent on trying to put the responsibility on everybody else that he wasn't putting energy towards fixing what had happened," she said.

"It's embarrassing watching a grown man trying to put blame and talk his way out of what is failure at his own job... I think he should resign."

Rizalman is currently being warded at the Tuanku Mizan Military Hospital for medical evaluation.

Malaysia will be sending him back to assist in investigations although the date of his departure has yet to be determined.

The Defence Ministry has set up a Board of Enquiry to investigate the case.

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