Malaysia to send envoy back to N Zealand in sex case

Malaysia to send envoy back to N Zealand in sex case

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia said Tuesday it was "making arrangements" to send a diplomatic staffer back to New Zealand to face sexual assault charges in a case that provoked outrage when the accused was allowed to return home.

Muhammad Rizalman Ismail appeared in a New Zealand court on May 10, accused of stalking a 21-year-old woman the previous night and attacking her at her home in the same Wellington suburb where Malaysia's High Commission is located.

Police charged the defence staff assistant with burglary and assault with intent to commit rape - both offences carry jail terms of up to 10 years - but he escaped prosecution after invoking diplomatic immunity and returning to Malaysia.

"The Government of Malaysia is currently making arrangements to send (Muhammad Rizalman) back to New Zealand... to face charges of burglary and assault with intent to commit sexual violation," said a statement released by Malaysia's foreign ministry.

It said the two countries were "discussing the required legal procedures to enable this to be done according to the applicable international and domestic laws," giving no further details.

An official at the ministry also declined to provide specifics when queried by AFP.

Muhammad Rizalman flew back to Malaysia on May 22 and subsequently was sent for psychiatric observation at a military hospital.

His departure caused uproar in New Zealand, with the government facing criticism for failing to ensure the diplomat stood trial.

The Malaysian government has also been accused by its nationals of wrongly protecting Muhammad Rizalman.

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