Sex case: M’sia asked NZ to drop all charges
WELLINGTON: The Malaysian Government asked New Zealand to drop all charges against a diplomat accused of sexual assault, newly released documents show.
Government released correspondence this evening confirmed that New Zealand asked Malaysia to waive diplomatic immunity for Muhammed Rizalman Ismail, a junior military official at the Malaysian High Commission in Wellington.
Rizalman left New Zealand to return to Malaysia on May 22 for home after being charged with sexually assaulting a young woman in Brooklyn, Wellington.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) wrote to the Malaysian High Commission: “The New Zealand police believe it is in the public interest to prosecute these offences due to the serious nature of the offence.”
MFAT asked the Malaysian authorities to waive the personal immunity granted to diplomats under the Vienna Convention.
In response, the Malaysian High Commission said it would not waive the immunity and had “decided that (Rizalman) should be repatriated to Malaysia as soon as possible”.
It also asked MFAT and the New Zealand police to “kindly consider sealing all documentation pertaining to the above-mentioned matter and (withdraw) all charges against Rizalman”.
The High Commission said it would ensure Rizalman did not return to New Zealand in the future.
The documents conflict with comments made this afternoon by Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman, who said Malaysia was willing to drop the immunity but decided to invoke it after an offer by New Zealand officials.
‘Stern action’ to be taken
Anifah told reporters in Kuala Lumpur that a defence ministry panel will investigate the junior official and “stern action will be taken” if he is found guilty.
He said the accused will be sent back to New Zealand “if it is absolutely necessary”.
Asked to elaborate, Anifah said he will be extradited if New Zealand requests for it or if New Zealand thinks the Malaysian investigation is not being conducted properly.
Anifah said it was never Malaysia’s “intention to treat the matter lightly”.
He said Rizalman was sent for a medical check-up after his return.
“His physical state is satisfactory. However, he is now under psychiatric evaluation to assess his mental and emotional condition.”
The defence ministry had established a board of inquiry to investigate the case and had given an assurance that “it will not compromise or conceal any facts on the case, being fully aware that Malaysia’s good name is at stake,” Anifah was quoted as saying.
“The Malaysian government acknowledges that the incident is a serious matter and we do not have any intention to sweep the matter under the carpet,” Anifah said, according to AP.
An urgent hearing to overturn the suppression ruling was held in the High Court at Wellington today, where the name suppression order was overturned.
Media organisations, including the New Zealand Herald, challenged the decision to grant name suppression.
Rizalman had followed a 21-year-old woman to her Brooklyn home on May 9 when the alleged assault occurred.
MFAT called in Malaysia’s head of mission last night to tell them that New Zealand expected Rizalman to face the consequences of his actions.
Malaysia Boleh - asking a sex offence to be dropped.
If it happened in Malaysia he would be scot-free - maybe he is someone influential or connected to one.