Envoy due back for court.
A Malaysian envoy is due to appear before the courts on sexual assault charges this weekend, five months after he fled New Zealand with diplomatic immunity.
Officials remained tight-lipped yesterday about the extradition of former military attache Muhammad Rizalman bin Ismail from Malaysia. But he was expected to be flown back tomorrow with a police escort and taken immediately to the Wellington District Court.
The 38-year-old faces charges of burglary and assault with intent to rape, which are punishable by 10 years’ jail.
Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully refused to discuss specifics of the case, except to say there had been a court case in Malaysia to order Rizalman’s extradition.
“The matter is entirely in the hands of the judicial system in both countries.”
He said there would be a trial in New Zealand, but was reluctant to comment further because he did not want to prejudice the trial. “There’s been a lot of publicity about it, and the legal people are very concerned to ensure that we observe proper process so I’ve left it entirely to them.”
Wellington police said officials were continuing with the extradition process.
The new Police Minister, Michael Woodhouse, also said he could not confirm any details about the case.
Rizalman’s return was delayed at first by concerns about his mental health and later by legal complications.
The story so far
May 9: Muhammad Rizalman bin Ismail, a military attache at the Malaysian High Commission, alleged to have attacked Wellington woman Tania Billingsley in her home. He is arrested.
May 10: Rizalman charged with burglary and assault with intent to rape. NZ asks Malaysia to waive diplomatic immunity.
May 22: Rizalman leaves NZ with immunity after a mix-up between NZ and Malaysian officials.
Jun 29-30: The case is made public. An inquiry begins over how the diplomat was allowed to leave.
Jul 2: Malaysia confirms Rizalman will be returned to NZ after psychiatric assessments.
Oct 22: Foreign Minister Murray McCully confirms a court case concerning Rizalman’s extradition has taken place in Malaysia.
Oct 24: Rizalman expected to return to face charges.