10 Sep 2014

Key unclear over diplomat's return

3:56 pm on 10 September 2014

Prime Minister John Key says he is not sure if the Goverment has formally asked for a Malaysian diplomat accused of sexual assault to be returned to New Zealand.

Muhammad Rizalman.

Muhammad Rizalman. Photo: FACEBOOK

Muhammad Rizalman was charged in May this year with assault with intent to rape on Wellington woman Tania Billingsley, but claimed diplomatic immunity and left the country.

In a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade botch-up, the 35-year-old was allowed to leave despite Malaysia being prepared to waive his immunity.

Yesterday, Malaysian news website Malaysiakini said the Malaysian government was ready to send Mr Rizalman back to New Zealand to stand trial and it was waiting for a request from the New Zealand Goverment to do so.

John Key said today he is not sure if that request has been sent, but it probably has.

"I suspect yes that's happened through MFAT, that process has always been in train. (Foreign Affairs Minister) Murray McCully's office would absolutely tell you whether they've ticked that box, but I assume they have."

Mr Key said the Government's intention to Malaysia is to have Mr Rizalman returned as soon as possible.

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