Written By: - Date published: 5:34 pm, July 1st, 2014 - 208 comments
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This morning in the Herald John Key claimed that New Zealand had demanded the waiving of diplomatic privilege for the Malaysian diplomat charged with breaking and entering and assault with intent to commit sexual violation. From the article:
A diplomat who escaped prosecution for sexual assault in New Zealand is likely to face serious charges in his home country, Prime Minister John Key says.
The Government last night hauled in the relevant country’s head of mission to make its views clear that the diplomat – who cannot be named – should be held to account.
It was revealed yesterday that the man, aged in his 30s, fled the country a day after being charged with burglary and assault with intent to rape by Wellington police.
He had followed a 21-year-old woman to her home in Brooklyn on May 9, when the alleged assault occurred.
Mr Key said the Ministry for Foreign Affairs had formally asked for the diplomat’s home country to waive diplomatic immunity, but it had declined.
“New Zealand’s very strong preference was that he would have been charged. Effectively that sending country stopped us from doing that,” he told reporters.
But elsewhere it is being reported that New Zealand actually helped the diplomat leave the country.
Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman has confirmed that a military official at the country’s diplomatic mission in New Zealand has been charged with sexual assault and that he returned home last month using diplomatic immunity.
Anifah told reporters Tuesday that a defense ministry panel will investigate the junior official and “stern action will be taken” if he is found guilty.
He said the accused will be sent back to New Zealand “if it is absolutely necessary.” Asked to elaborate, Anifah said he will be extradited if New Zealand requests it or if New Zealand thinks the Malaysian investigation is not being conducted properly.
He says Malaysia was willing to waive diplomatic immunity but decided to take up New Zealand’s offer to invoke diplomatic immunity and bring him back back home.
McCulley’s demanding an audience with the Malaysian Ambassador a month after the offence took place was obviously motivated by political considerations rather than considerations of relationships with Malaysia and appeared calculating in the extreme.
But this new disclosure opens up the Prime Minister to some serious questions. Did New Zealand actually tell Malaysia not to invoke diplomatic immunity? And if it did then why did John Key say otherwise?
Update: TV3 has just reported on the issue and did not make any comment on the suggestion that Malaysia was willing to waive immunity. What is going on?
Further update: Following is a screenshot of a statement by McCully. So Malaysia thought that refusing to waive immunity would be acceptable to New Zealand. Details of the “informal communications” needs to be released so that we can judge for ourselves what was actually discussed and agreed to. McCully is probably thinking that standing for the list only is not such a bad idea.