The Malaysian Government asked New Zealand to drop all charges against a diplomat accused of sexual assault, newly released documents show.
Government released correspondence this evening confirmed that New Zealand asked Malaysia to waive diplomatic immunity for Muhammed Rizalman Bin Ismail, a junior military official at the Malaysian High Commission in Wellington.
Muhammed Rizalman left New Zealand on May 22 after being charged with sexually assaulting a young woman in Brooklyn, Wellington.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote to the High Commission: "The New Zealand police believes it is in the public interest to prosecute these offenses due to the serious nature of the offending."
MFAT asked Malaysian authorities to waive the personal immunity granted to diplomats under the Vienna Convention.
In response, the Malaysian High Commission said it would not waive immunity and had "decided that [Muhammed Rizalman] should be repatriated to Malaysia as soon as possible".
It also asked MFAT and New Zealand police to "kindly consider sealing all documentations pertaining to the above mentioned matter and [withdraw] all charges against Mr Muhammed Rizalman Bin Ismail".
The High Commission said it would ensure Muhammed Rizalman did not return to New Zealand in the future.
The documents conflict with comments made this afternoon by Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman, who said Malaysia was willing to drop immunity but decided to invoke it after an offer by New Zealand officials.
Officials 'acted in good faith'
Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said tonight he had spoken with his Malaysian counterpart to clarify any misunderstanding around the diplomatic standoff and issued a press statement to say the Malaysian authorities acted in good faith.
Mr McCully said the miscommunication seemed to have occurred during "informal communications over what is a complex case, in a manner that would have been ambiguous to the Malaysian Government".
Any evidence gathered by the New Zealand police would be placed before the military Board of Inquiry, said Mr McCully.
"The Minister made it clear that he would not allow the actions of one individual to tarnish the reputations of all Malaysian diplomats," said Mr McCully.
"It is clear to me from my conversation with Minister Anifah that his Government's decision to decline New Zealand's request for immunity to be lifted was driven by his Chief of Defence's desire to put in place a robust judicial process to deal with this matter and his officials' belief that this would be an outcome acceptable to New Zealand."