16 Sep 2014

MFAT 'right to withhold' Rizalman info

1:59 pm on 16 September 2014

The Chief Ombudsman has released a provisional decision saying the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was right to withhold information about the Malaysian diplomat case from the media.

Muhammad Rizalman.

Muhammad Rizalman. Photo: FACEBOOK

Muhammad Rizalman, 35, was charged in May this year with assault with intent to rape a woman in Wellington.

However a Ministry botch-up meant he was able to claim diplomatic immunity and leave the country even though the Malaysian government was prepared to waive his immunity at the time.

The Ministry has refused to release details about a meeting its officials had with the Malaysian High Commissioner and the police before Mr Rizalman left.

In a provisional decision, Chief Ombudsman Dame Beverley Wakem said there was a significant risk that releasing some information could hinder efforts underway to return Mr Rizalman to New Zealand.

She said it could also hinder a Ministerial inquiry into the case which is underway.

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