- Published on Wednesday, 02 July 2014 17:45
KUALA LUMPUR: Second Warrant Officer Muhammad Rizalman Ismail was “weird” and “quiet”, a former neighbour has said of the military attache accused of sexually assaulting a 21-year-old woman in New Zealand.
Sean Gordon, who lives behind the house occupied by Muhammad Rizalman and his family in Newlands, Wellington, told Kiwi news portal Stuff that the junior envoy was allegedly “a bit quiet, very strange”.
“He was really quiet, like he always had something on his mind,” Gordon was quoted as saying.
The Kiwi said Muhammad Rizalman's wife and children were friendly when they moved in a year ago, just as the previous Malaysian family that occupied the house before them.
Gordon said things had gone on as normal until Muhammad Rizalman disappeared while his wife and children stayed indoors.
Bafflement over their behaviour, however, soon turned to indignation for Gordon, who said it was outrageous that Muhammad RIzalman was allowed to return to Malaysia after being charged for sexual assault.
'This is a guy who I had a beer with, said gidday to up on my deck, I even did all the weed killing for him,” Gordon was quoted as saying in the news report.
Muhammad Rizalman, 38, was arrested by Kiwi police on May 9 on allegations of attempted burglary and sexual assault on a 21-year-old woman.
He was charged in a New Zealand court a day later for burglary and assault with intent to commit rape, with both charges carrying the maximum penalty of a 10-year jail term.
Despite the charges, Muhammad Rizalman was brought home to Malaysia, along with his family, on May 22.
A potential diplomatic firestorm is brewing as the Malaysian and New Zealand governments issued conflicting statements over the Malaysian side’s willingness to hand him over to Kiwi authorities.
Malaysian Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, however, has said his ministry will back the Foreign Ministry if it decides to revoke Muhammad Rizalman's diplomatic immunity and extradite him to New Zealand.