As New Zealand awaits the return of the accused Malaysian diplomat, Malaysian doctors of Muhammad Rizalman bin Ismail has warned he may not be "well enough" to travel. According to reports, Rizalman has been in the hospital since July 1 and he was supposed to be released soon after his medical tests.
A report by NZ Herald said Rizalman was "not looking good" and might remain in Malaysia's Tuanku Mizan Military Hospital for further examination. A hospital staffer has allegedly said the patient seemed "withdrawn and depressed."
Reports said a senior doctor had confirmed the accused Malaysian diplomat may need further psychiatric evaluation.
Rizalman was arrested on May 9 and was charged with burglary and assault with intent to rape a young woman after following her home in Wellington. The New Zealand government wanted the Malaysian to face the charges in New Zealand but the Malaysian government cited diplomatic immunity. Rizalman left New Zealand a day after his arrest.
He had been working for the Malaysian High Commission as a staff assistant for defence in Wellington since 2013.
Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully was criticised for "doing nothing" after he was informed of the incident on May 9. He defended his actions in handling the case of the Malaysian diplomat. According to McCully, it was only appropriate for him to leave the matter to the authorities. However, the Labour Party criticised his "hands-off" approach and called it "remarkable."
McCully said he was informed about the diplomat's arrest on May 10 and told diplomatic immunity is being sought. The minister said he was told nothing more and did not take any further action until the case was reported by media last weekend. An MFAT inquiry is ongoing despite McCully's apology.
New Zealand has to depend on the Malaysian government to decide whether or not Rizalman is "fit" to face charges. On July 7, McCully did not give any assurance that Rizalman will return to New Zealand.
Malaysian Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein had declined to confirm when Rizalman will be sent to New Zealand. He only revealed to media that the details of Rizalman's extradition are still under negotiation between the New Zealand high commission in Malaysia and the country's attorney-general.