New Zealand Foreign Minister Facing Probe For Refusing To Share Information On Malaysian Diplomat Who Assaulted A Woman

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By Kalyan Kumar | September 5, 2014 9:42 AM EST

Murray McCully, the Foreign Minister of New Zealand, has come under the focus of a probe on the breach of Official Information Act. The minister is being probed for withholding papers sought for the public domain that related to a Malaysian diplomat who was charged for criminal misconduct, reported stuff.co.nz

REUTERS/Brendon Thorne
New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key speaks at a luncheon in Sydney February 7, 2014.

In late July, McCully refused to share important information on a case related to an Official Information Act, when the copies of advice and correspondence about the diplomatic immunity claimed by the Malaysian defence attache Muhammad Rizalman bin Ismail, were sought.

The diplomat had been charged with burglary and assault with an intent to rape.  But he left for his native country, citing diplomatic immunity.

The request for information came from Newstalk ZB in July. It was Newstalk ZB's parent company, the Radio Network that the complaint to the ombudsman. Chief Ombudsman, Dame Beverly Wakem, promptly ordered an immediate investigation on the minister.

Assault Charge

The Malaysian diplomat Rizalman was held on May 9 for allegedly assaulting a 21-year-old woman at Brooklyn in Wellington where the Malaysian embassy is housed. The diplomat was charged with burglary and assault with intent to rape.

But Malaysia insisted on Rizalman's diplomatic immunity and he left New Zealand on May 22.

Controversy had erupted after the officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs started giving ambiguous answers on why left for Malaysia, instead of remaining in the host country.

The incident created an outrage and the diplomat's exit was dubbed by many as the incompetence of the Foreign Ministry. The victim of the assault even gave an interview to TV3's 3rd Degree and said she was shocked that the attacker had been allowed to leave than being held accountable for the offence.

A ministerial inquiry was also announced to remove the ambiguity and find out why Rizalman had been allowed to leave. The probe is headed by John Whitehead, former secretary to the Treasury from 2003 to 2011.

Psychiatric Evaluation

Meanwhile, the psychiatric evaluation of Rizalman has been completed and he may be asked to return to New Zealand to face the trial. The timeline for the diplomat's extradition will be decided by the two countries.

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(Photo: REUTERS/Brendon Thorne / )
New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key speaks at a luncheon in Sydney February 7, 2014.
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