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Published: Tuesday July 1, 2014 MYT 6:19:00 PM
Updated: Tuesday July 1, 2014 MYT 11:30:49 PM

Malaysia not sweeping NZ sexual assault case 'under the carpet'

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Government has ensured a transparent investigation into the incident involving a defence staff assistant who was allegedly accused of sexual assault in New Zealand.

According to the Foreign Affairs Ministry in a statement on Tuesday, the Government said that it is “not sweeping the matter under the carpet”.

It said the Government acknowledged that the incident does not reflect the exemplary conduct and integrity of Malaysians serving abroad.

“The Malaysian Government is committed in ensuring the transparency of the investigation of the case. The Ministry of Defence will not hesitate to take stern action against the accused person under the Armed Forces Act 1972, if it is proven beyond reasonable doubt that the accused is responsible for his alleged misconduct,” the statement said.

In earlier reports, New Zealand was asked to drop all charges against the alleged accused, according to correspondence released by the New Zealand Government on Tuesday.

This came after its Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Mofat) had requested that diplomatic immunity be waived for Muhammed Rizalman Ismail, 38, a defence staff assistant with the Malaysian High Commission in New Zealand. 

However, according to the Foreign Affairs Ministry, they were prepared to waive diplomatic immunity of the alleged accused to enable prosecution under New Zealand law.

It said that the Malaysian High Commission in Wellington had a meeting with Mofat's Deputy Chief of Protocol and New Zealand police officers to discuss the matter.

“During the discussion on May 12, the New Zealand side offered an alternative for the accused to be brought back to Malaysia. It was never our intention to treat the matter lightly. 

“With the agreement of the New Zealand side, the accused person and his family returned to Malaysia on May 22,” said the statement.

Muhammed Rizalman was allegedly accused of sexually assaulting a 21-year-old woman at her home in Wellington.

He reportedly followed the young woman back to her home in Brooklyn on the night of May 9 and is alleged to have assaulted her with the intent to rape. 

He was brought to court on May 10 for the charges of burglary and assault with intent to commit rape but has since returned to Malaysia.

The incident has created a public outcry in New Zealand, with Prime Minister John Key saying his “preference” was for the alleged accused to be tried under NZ law.

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Tags / Keywords: Muhammed Rizalman Ismail, New Zealand, sexual assault

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