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Diplomat in NZ sex attack case can't be tried in Malaysia: lawyers

Senior lawyers in Malaysia believe that Kuala Lumpur has to let the diplomat involved in the offences of attempted burglary and sexual assault in New Zealand be sent back to the country and be tried there.

KUALA LUMPUR: Senior lawyers in Malaysia believe that Kuala Lumpur has to let the diplomat involved in the offences of attempted burglary and sexual assault in New Zealand be sent back to the country and be tried there.

Most senior lawyers said that it was very difficult for the envoy, a warrant officer from Malaysia’s defence ministry, to take stand on the charges in Malaysia as the offences did not fall within the act and were also committed in another country.

Former Solicitor-General II Mohamed Yusof Zainal Abiden said based on the offences, he did not think that the envoy could be tried in Malaysia.

"According to the act, if a person committed the crime outside the country under the Sedition Act and Official Secrets Act, he can be charged or tried here. I do not think the offences committed by the diplomat can be heard here," he told Bernama.

Wisma Putra on Tuesday announced that the diplomat would be sent to Wellington after the New Zealand government pressed for the accused to stand trial there.

Mohamed Yusof explained that any offence, under any other written law the commission of which was certified by the attorney-general to affect the security of the country, could also be tried in Malaysia.

"I think in France, the country has a law that asserts general jurisdiction over crimes by or against the country's citizens, no matter where they may have occurred but in Malaysia it is limited," he said

Furthermore, Mohamed Yusof, who is currently a lawyer, said the crime was committed in New Zealand, so that the country had jurisdiction to hear the case.

Criminal lawyer Edmund Bon said the Malaysian court did not have the jurisdiction to hear cases in which the crime was committed overseas.

"It is very difficult for him to answer the charges here because the crime was committed in New Zealand," he said.

Asked on diplomatic immunity of the officer, he said in common law, it would only applied in the course of duty as a diplomat.

"The diplomatic immunity does not extend to sexual offences, if you committed crimes, it will not apply," he said.

On July 1, Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein had said that the ministry supported Wisma Putra's decision to withdraw diplomatic immunity of the officer which would enable him to be prosecuted according to the laws of New Zealand.

The envoy 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 but a suppression order was imposed to protect his identity.  

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