Malaysian envoy in NZ sex crime named

Malaysian envoy in NZ sex crime named
A photo of the Malaysian High Commission in Wellington, New Zealand.
KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian diplomat who is at the centre of an alleged sexual assault case in New Zealand has been identified as Muhammad Rizalman Ismail.

His identity was allowed to be revealed after media organisations challenged a judge's decision to grant permanent name suppression, The New Zealand Herald reported today.

The identity of Muhammad Rizalman, 38, who worked at the Malaysian High Commission in Wellington, was previously concealed due to a immunity order imposed by a Wellington District Court judge on May 30.

However, the High Court at Wellington today held an emergency hearing to overturn the immunityruling and it was successful.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian Foreign Affairs Ministry said it will not waive Muhammad Rizalman's diplomatic immunity just yet. But they are prepared to do so, if necessary, so that the suspect can be prosecuted under the New Zealand law, its Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman said.

He said the Malaysian government is committed in ensuring the transparency of the investigation of this case.

"If it is absolutely necessary that we think it is best to (waive his immunity) we will do it without hesitation," he told a press conference in Wisma Putra here today.

Anifah also said, the Malaysian government has confidence with the Defence Ministry's (Mindef) board of inquiry (BOI) that they will communicate with the New Zealand authorities, adding that they will not hesitate to take stern action against the suspect.

"Mindef will not hesitate to act under the Armed Forces Act 1972, if it is proven beyond doubt that Muhammad Rizalman is responsible and guilty of the offense as charged," he said.

He said the waiver would be deemed necessary when New Zealand requested for Muhammad Rizalman's return, out of belief that the investigations in Malaysia were not done properly.

However, he informed that it was the New Zealand authorities who had allowed the man to be brought back to Malaysia in May.

Besides that, Muhammad Rizalman has also undergone medical checks at the Mindef Medical Centre on May 29 which include physical and mental tests.

Anifah said blood and urine tests were also conducted and the results were satisfactory. Muhammad Rizalman is now at the Tuanku Mizan Military Hospital to have his mental and emotional health assessed.

On the Malaysian High Commission's website in New Zealand, Muhammad Rizalman, who had previously claimed diplomatic immunity, is listed to be Defence staff assistant, with the rank of a warrant officer II.

The man was arrested after he allegedly followed a 21-year-old woman to her house on May 9 and attacked her.