Malaysia preparing diplomat's extradition to NZ

WO2 Rizalman Ismail.

PUTRAJAYA - Malaysia is preparing to send Warrant Officer 2 Muhammad Rizalman Ismail back to New Zealand to face charges of burglary and assault with intent to rape a 21-year-old woman at her Wellington home.

Wisma Putra said it was still discussing the required legal procedures with New Zealand, adding that Muhammad Rizalman's extradition had to be done in accordance with international and domestic laws.

In a statement yesterday, Wisma Putra stressed that Malaysia and New Zealand were committed to ensuring Muhammad Rizalman's transfer was "handled in a tactful manner, seamless and in accordance with the due process of law and respecting his fundamental rights".

The former defence staff assistant at the Malaysian High Commission has been accused of burglary and assault with intent to rape Tania Billingsley on May 9.

He flew back to Malaysia on May 22 despite facing trial in New Zealand after Wisma Putra invoked diplomatic immunity.

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman had earlier pledged to send Muhammad Rizalman back to facilitate investigations, though no date was given.

On Tuesday, The Star highlighted concerns in New Zealand why it was taking so long to despatch Muhammad Rizalman back to Wellington.

The report stated that The New Zealand Herald, after nearly a month's silence since the diplomatic issue hit international headlines, also questioned why it was taking so long for the former defence staff assistant to be sent back.

Armed Forces chief Jen Tan Sri Zulkifeli Mohd Zin had cited a pending psychiatric observation on Muhammad Rizalman at the Tuanku Mizan Military Hospital as a reason, while sources said the Warrant Officer 2 had asked to be sent back to New Zealand only after Hari Raya.

The Star learnt that Muham­mad Rizalman was discharged from psychiatric observation nearly two weeks ago.

The authorities are not disclosing his whereabouts.

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