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Rizalman Granted Bail By New Zealand Court

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WELLINGTON – Second warrant officer Muhammad Rizalman Ismail, who arrived in New Zealand on Saturday to face burglary and assault charges, has been granted bail.

Rizalman agreed to strict conditions, including a curfew, not contacting his alleged victim, surrendering his passport and remaining under the supervision of two Malaysian military attaches.

The 38-year-old, dressed in a dark striped shirt and black trousers, stood quietly in the dock with his hands clasped behind his back as his bail application was heard in the Wellington District Court.

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

The envoy, who was a defence staff assistant at the commission, was charged at the time with burglary and assault with intent to rape but left Wellington after Malaysian authorities told their New Zealand counterparts they would not waive diplomatic immunity in the case.

Judge Arthur Tompkins granted bail but said Rizalman’s lawyers must apply again to have it extended on Nov 3.

He ordered Rizalman to return to court on Nov 21 to enter pleas on charges arising from the alleged attack, details of which have not been publicly released.

Rizalman faces a jail term of up to 10 years if found guilty.

Billingsley has waived her 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. – AFP

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