Lincoln Tan

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

Sex-case diplomat expected back in NZ on Monday

Muhammad Rizalman will not have diplomatic immunity.
Muhammad Rizalman will not have diplomatic immunity.

The Malaysian diplomatic aide accused of burglary and intent to rape could be sent back to New Zealand without diplomatic immunity as early as Monday.

Warrant Officer 2 Muhammad Rizalman bin Ismail underwent final

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psychiatric evaluation yesterday and could be discharged over the weekend.

"We just need to get the results and wait for the doctor's report and he will be discharged," a doctor at the Tuanku Mizan Military Hospital in Kuala Lumpur told the Herald.

The doctor, who is a high-ranking military staffer, said Rizalman would be sent back as soon as the evaluations were complete. A source said four seats had been blocked for a flight on Monday night to Auckland. No names had been given for the booking.

Rizalman was arrested in Wellington on May 9 after allegedly assaulting a 21-year-old woman. The Star reported yesterday that Rizalman told officials he had gone to watch a movie with the woman and followed her back to her home in Brooklyn.

He was charged and appeared in court the following day, but returned to Malaysia on May 22 after claiming diplomatic immunity. Malaysian authorities then agreed this week to have him returned to New Zealand where an active warrant for his arrest remains in place.

A Malaysian foreign affairs official in Kuala Lumpur told the Herald that he will return to New Zealand without diplomatic immunity. "This means he will be treated as any civilian accused of committing a crime in NZ."


Rizalman has been warded at the Tuanku Mizan Military Hospital in KL since Tuesday under close watch. Photo / Brett Phibbs

The ministry will be arranging legal support for the 38-year-old former defence staff assistant. He has been warded at the military hospital since Tuesday under close watch by guards.

The Herald was stopped from seeing Rizalman, but was offered an off-the-record meeting with the hospital's commanding officer. A request to interview his wife through the officer was turned down.

"The family has been going through a tough time, so I think it is only fair that they be given some space," he said.

Yesterday, the Labour Party said Prime Minister John Key had compromised the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade's (Mfat) investigation into the handling of Rizalman's case with inappropriate comments.

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Mr Key said New Zealand had clearly wanted the diplomat to remain in the country, and the official who made this stance more ambiguous should reconsider their career.

"If that person doesn't have clarity about that position then they need to think very strongly about whether they're in the right job."

The official is believed to be deputy head of protocol Mary Oliver.

Mfat is planning an independent inquiry into its handling of the case, and Labour's foreign affairs spokesman, David Shearer, said Mr Key's comments had "hopelessly compromised" the investigation.

- Additional reporting Isaac Davison


Read the coverage by the Herald here.

- NZ Herald

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