Malaysian envoy to be extradited on NZ sex charge

[KUALA LUMPUR] A Malaysian military attache who invoked diplomatic immunity to escape an attempted rape charge in Wellington will be extradited to New Zealand on Friday to stand trial, officials said.

Muhammad Rizalman Ismail will depart Malaysia escorted by two New Zealand police officers and two members of the Malaysian military, the foreign ministry in Kuala Lumpur said.

"Malaysia is confident that Mr. Rizalman will be accorded a fair trial by the New Zealand court," it said in a statement.

Rizalman is accused of stalking Tania Billingsley and attempting to rape the then 21-year-old at her home in the same Wellington suburb where Malaysia's High Commission is located.

The alleged attack occurred on May 9 and police charged him with burglary and assault with intent to commit rape - both offences carry jail terms of up to 10 years - but he invoked diplomatic immunity and fled to Malaysia.

The case caused uproar in New Zealand when it became public and Malaysia subsequently promised to extradite him.

He is expected to be taken straight to court after arriving in Wellington for arraignment on the charges against him.

Billingsley, his alleged victim, waived the right to anonymity granted in sex cases under New Zealand law to express her frustration at how the case had been handled.

She said in a television interview in July that New Zealand officials appeared more concerned about hushing the matter up and avoiding a diplomatic incident than ensuring justice was served.


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