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Monday, June 30, 2014

Malaysian diplomat in NZ sexual assault case


Wisma Putra says it will address tomorrow a brewing storm surrounding a Malaysian diplomat who is accused by New Zealand authorities of assault with intention to commit rape.

New Zealanders responded with outrage yesterday after authorities revealed that the man, in his 30s, had followed a 21-year-old woman home and assaulted her.

The press in New Zealand is prevented from revealing the alleged offender's name or country of origin after a New Zealand judge issued a suppression order on his details.

However, Malaysiakini understands the man is a Malaysian diplomat who worked at the Malaysian High Commission based in Wellington.

Foreign Minister Anifah Aman when asked to confirm this, told Malaysiakini in a text message that he will weigh in on the matter in a press conference tomorrow.

Malaysiakini is withholding the man's name pending Wisma Putra's official response.

According to the Associated Press, police arrested the diplomat on May 9 and charged him with burglary and assault with intent to rape, both of which carries a maximum jail term of 10 years.

However, the man invoked his diplomatic immunity and has fled the country.

NZ wants diplomat extradited

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key broke his silence on the matter this morning, revealing that his government had demanded the man's diplomatic immunity be waived but was rebuffed.

"It was the government's strong preference that this person be held to account in New Zealand, but this was refused by the sending country," Key was quoted as saying by New Zealand news portal stuff.co.nz.

Key did not reveal specific details about the diplomat, citing the court's suppression order which also applies on the government.

He said assurance had been made that the diplomat will be held accountable in his own country.

"As a signatory to the Vienna Convention our hands are effectively tied, but we still expect justice for the victim," he was quoted as saying.

Key has come under criticism for only summoning Malaysia's High Commissioner a month after the incident.

However, Key revealed his government had been in a diplomatic back-and-forth with the man's country of origin in the past month, without mentioning "Malaysia".

"There's been a series of meetings held at a variety of different levels with MFAT (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) in New Zealand and the representatives of the sending country.

"I'm led to believe, and I strongly accept that advice, that the host country is absolutely aware at a very senior level about New Zealand's expectations and how seriously we're taking the issue," he was quoted as saying.

Labour foreign affairs spokesperson David Shearer, who represents New Zealand's largest opposition party, called for the diplomat's extradition to face the law in New Zealand.

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