Malaysian diplomat denies sexual assault in New Zealand

WELLINGTON - A former Malaysian diplomat in New Zealand accused of sexual assault denied the charge and elected a trial by jury when he appeared in court Friday.

Muhammad Rizalman Ismail, 38, was extradited to New Zealand last month after leaving the country under diplomatic immunity when first charged in May.

In his latest court hearing he denied charges of burglary and assault with intent to commit sexual violation and will reappear in court next February.

Following an earlier court appearance, Rizalman is on bail at an undisclosed address but has had to surrender his passport and is under a nighttime curfew.

He is accused of stalking and attempting to rape a 21-year-old woman at her home in the same Wellington suburb where Malaysia's High Commission is located.

Rizalman, who was a military attache at the embassy, faces a jail term of up to 10 years if found guilty.