NZ sexual assault case: Rizalman due in NZ on Saturday

NZ sexual assault case: Rizalman due in NZ on Saturday
Muhammad Rizalman Ismail

PETALING JAYA - Former Malaysian attache Muhammad Rizalman Ismail (pix) is due back in New Zealand on Saturday to face the sexual assault charges filed against him in May, according to reports in New Zealand.

News portal, stuff.co.nz, said Rizalman was scheduled to depart Malaysia on Friday night for Wellington.

He would be taken directly to the Wellington District Court to face the charges on Saturday morning.

Rizalman, a second warrant officer at the Malaysian High Commission in Wellington, was accused of burglary and assault with intent to rape Tania Billingsley, 21, at her home on May 9.

Despite facing trial there, he returned to Malaysia on May 22 after Wisma Putra invoked his diplomatic immunity.

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman had pledged to send him back to New Zealand to facilitate investigations, but no precise date was given.

Rizalman underwent a psychiatric evaluation at the Tuanku Mizan Military Hospital upon his return and was discharged at the end of July.

Wisma Putra confirmed earlier this month that it had received an official request from the New Zealand government to extradite Rizalman.

The request was forwarded to the Home Ministry and Attorney-General's Chambers for further action.

According stuff.co.nz, the necessary legal work had been sorted out to allow Rizalman to return to the country.

New Zealand has no formal extradition treaty with Malaysia.

New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) was quoted as saying that both countries had agreed to commit to the process and had been sharing documents to hasten the legal process previously seen as "complex."

"The matter is now entirely in the hands of the judicial systems of both countries," Foreign Minister Murray McCully was quoted as saying.

When contacted, Wisma Putra did not confirm if Rizalman was returning to New Zealand on Saturday, and said they would be issuing a statement on the matter Thursday.

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