NZ police on why Malaysian diplomat's bail was removed

PETALING JAYA - Police sought to remove the bail conditions for the Malaysian diplomat at the centre of a sex case - including an order to surrender his passport - because the conditions were not enforceable under diplomatic immunity, reports The New Zealand Herald.

The conditions were removed and Muhammad Rizalman bin Ismail, 38, could freely roam as he pleased for a week before he flew back to Malaysia, the daily said.

The details are among a tranche of court documents, released this morning.

An arrest warrant remains in place for Rizalman, who is charged with burglary and assault with intent to rape on May 9 in the Brooklyn home of Tania Billingsley, 22, who waived her automatic name suppression earlier this week.

Rizalman was arrested on May 10 and granted bail on the same day.

Among his bail conditions were a curfew to be at his Newlands home from 7pm to 6am, not to associate with Billingsley, and to surrender his passport to the Wellington District Court within two days and not to apply for travel documentation.

Prime Minister John Key was briefed on May 12, the same day the Malaysia High Commission met with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and police to discuss the case.

Wellington District Police Commander Superintendent Sam Hoyle said once diplomatic immunity was confirmed, the bail conditions were no longer enforceable.

Rizalman was initially ordered to relinquish his passport by 5pm on May 12.

"By this time, police had been able to confirm with that he had diplomatic immunity and therefore the bail conditions were unenforceable.

His passport was secured at the Malaysian High Commission during this time and, once the immunity was confirmed, police sought to have the now unenforceable bail conditions removed," Hoyle said.

At a court hearing on May 15, court records note: "At the request of police, bail conditions are removed - [Rizalman] now at large. Issue as to whether defendant has diplomatic immunity being looked into."

A week later, on May 22, Rizalman flew back to Malaysia. On May 29, an email from police to court officials noted that Rizalman had left New Zealand.

"The New Zealand authorities had no lawful powers to prevent Mr Ismail's (Rizalman) departure," the email from Blake Dawson from the police prosecution service said.

The Herald quoted New Zealand First leader Winston Peters as saying that the documents begged a number of questions.

"The granting of name suppression [on May 10] could only have occurred with him subjecting himself to New Zealand legal jurisdiction. The bail conditions included surrendering his passport ... So, why didn't he surrender his passport?

"On May 15, 'at the request of police' bail conditions were removed which begs the question: who authorised the police to change their stance? To suggest that a middling Mfat official authorised a change in police actions does not make sense from either a law enforcement position or Mfat decision.

"The Minister of Foreign Affairs was briefed on the May 10, the Prime Minister was briefed on May 12, so the government needs to explain why the passport wasn't surrendered and why the police changed their position."