Lincoln Tan is the New Zealand Herald’s diversity, ethnic affairs and immigration senior reporter.

Sex-case diplomat asks for delay

Request to stay in Malaysia during Ramadan expected to be declined by officials planning to return him ‘asap’

Muhammad Rizalman bin Ismail is a patient at Tuanku Mizan Military Hospital. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Muhammad Rizalman bin Ismail is a patient at Tuanku Mizan Military Hospital. Photo / Brett Phibbs

The Malaysian diplomat Muhammad Rizalman bin Ismail facing charges for sexual assault wants his return to New Zealand to be deferred until after Ramadan.

A source in Kuala Lumpur has told the Herald Rizalman has asked to remain in the Malaysian capital until after Hari Raya, which falls on July 28 and marks the end of the Islamic fasting month.

However, it is understood the request will not be entertained with a Malaysian foreign affairs official saying the diplomatic corps warrant officer will be sent back "as soon as possible".

A doctor at the Tuanku Mizan Military Hospital, where Rizalman is being held for tests on his mental and emotional condition, said he would not be discharged until the medical examinations were complete.

"We are still waiting for the reports to the tests and then the doctors still need to write their report," the doctor said.

"It would take more than a couple of days, so it's highly unlikely Rizalman will go before the weekend."

The Herald understands the diplomat has a history of depression.

His wife and three children are being housed at a military apartment near the hospital and visit him daily.

A senior military officer from Malaysia will accompany the former defence staff assistant at the Malaysia High Commission back to New Zealand.

Malaysian Foreign Affairs Minister Anifah Aman said the Malaysian Government would provide legal assistance to Rizalman if necessary.

The Government said Rizalman was expected to return "within a matter of days, not a matter of weeks".

There is an active warrant for his arrest in New Zealand, and police said he would be arrested at the border as soon as he arrives in the country and taken to the nearest court.

Green MP Jan Logie, who has been speaking to the victim, said the 21-year-old woman had welcomed the decision to have Rizalman tried in New Zealand.

"She is pleased that he will be coming back to New Zealand to face justice."

Meanwhile, Prime Minister John Key has directly criticised the MFAT deputy chief of protocol who gave Malaysia the impression New Zealand was happy for Rizalman to leave the country and escape the charges.

- NZ Herald

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