NZ court extends curfew of officer accused of rape

NZ court extends curfew of officer accused of rape

WELLINGTON - Former second warrant officer Muhammad Rizalman Ismail, accused of stalking and attempting to rape a New Zealander at her home on May 9, has had his curfew hours extended.

Judge Bruce Davidson extended the curfew hours from the original 10pm-7am to 7pm-7am.

Bernama reported that the other conditions of his bail, including not to approach the complainant, Tania Billingsley, 21, or visit the areas of Wellington covering the suburbs of Newton and Berhampore and Cuba Street, were retained.

Rizalman, a defence staff assistant at the Malaysian mission in Wellington, is scheduled to appear in court on Nov 26, where he is expected to enter his plea to the various criminal charges.

The news on Rizalman and the outcome of yesterday's hearing was aired on New Zealand national television.

The New Zealand Herald reported that Rizalman, 38, is now staying at an undisclosed location after his bail conditions were finalised by the Wellington District Court.

As part of the conditions, he also has to surrender his passport.

In Kuala Lumpur, deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Hamzah Zainuddin told the Dewan Rakyat that Rizalman's extradition was "clear proof of the close diplomatic relations between Malaysia and New Zealand, where both countries adhere to transparent legal systems."

"We received an official request from New Zealand on Oct 3 for the extradition, after which a proceeding was held with Rizalman at the Sessions Court here.

"At the proceeding, Rizalman did not object to the extradition, rather he stated his readiness to return to New Zealand for trial," said Hamzah in response to a question by Dr Azman Ismail (PKR-Kuala Kedah).

Hamzah said he was confident of Rizalman facing a fair and open trial in New Zealand.

On a question of standard operating procedures by Wisma Putra on handling such incidents, Hamzah said there was indeed an SOP in place involving officers in all Malaysian missions.

"If problems arise, our first course of action is to hold discussions with the relevant authorities in the foreign country, which is what we did in this case.

"Our country is a signatory to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961, which is what we adhere to in the event of any problems," he said.

Hamzah clarified that this convention was applicable to foreign diplomats serving in Malaysia, where the extent of their diplomatic immunity was only as dictated by the convention.

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