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Diplomat investigated by Mindef for NZ sex assault

PUTRAJAYA, July 1 (Bernama) -- The Malaysian diplomat accused in an attempted burglary and sexual assault on a woman in New Zealand has been identified as a Defence Staff Assistant at the Malaysian High Commission in Wellington and is currently facing investigation by the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) back home.

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman said the accused was brought back to Malaysia on May 22 together with his family after New Zealand offered an alternative in dealing with the case, which Malaysia accepted.

Upon his return which was accompanied by high-ranking Mindef official, Anifah said Mindef had taken action to immediately investigate the case involving the 38-year-old accused.

He said Mindef had established a Board of Inquiry (BOI) to investigate the case comprehensively and Mindef also had conducted medical assessment of the accused to ascertain his physical and mental condition.

At a press conference here today sharing the circumstances surrounding the return of the accused, he said the accused, with the rank of second warrant officer from Mindef, was attached to the Malaysian High Commission in Wellington for a year and had been apprehended by the New Zealand police on May 9 on attempted burglary and sexual assault on a woman.

The accused was brought to court on May 10 for the charges of burglary and assault with intent to commit rape.

Anifah said the Malaysian High Commissioner had a meeting with the Deputy Chief of Protocol of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of New Zealand (MFAT) and New Zealand police officials to address the matter on May 12.

"At the same time, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia was prepared to waive diplomatic immunity of the accused to enable prosecution under New Zealand law against him to proceed.

"During the discussion (on May 12), the New Zealand side had offered an alternative for the accused to be brought back to Malaysia. It was never our intention to treat the matter lightly," he said.

Anifah said Mindef had given its assurance and commitment that it would not compromise or conceal any facts on the case, being fully aware that Malaysia's good name was at stake.

"Mindef will work closely with New Zealand to obtain evidences," he said.

He said Mindef would not hesitate to take stern action against the accused under the Armed Forces Act 1972, if it was proven beyond reasonable doubt that he was responsible and committed the alleged misconduct.

Anifah said the Malaysian government acknowledged that the incident was a serious matter and did not have any intention to 'sweep the matter under the carpet."

"On this incident, although it is an isolated case, the Malaysian government views the matter seriously and in no way does it reflect the exemplary conduct and integrity of the Malaysian diplomatic officials serving abroad.

"The Malaysian government is committed in ensuring the transparency of the investigation of this case," he said.

Anifah said Wisma Putra would consider waiving the diplomatic immunity of the accused if it was "absolutely necessary."

He also said the waiver would be necessary if New Zealand requested for the extradition of the accused if they considered the investigations in Malaysia were not done properly.

"But we have confidence in Mindef (board of inquiry)... and they will communicate with the New Zealand authorities for evidences."

"What is important is that he (the accused) must be investigated thoroughly and given fair hearing. If he is found guilty, punishment must be meted out accordingly," he said.

He also said the bilateral relation between Malaysia and New Zealand would not be affected by the case as both countries were working closely on it.

 

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