Time to discover the truth: Muhammad Rizalman bin Ismail faces court this week [UPDATED]

I wrote this article early this morning. I’m leaving it intact but have added to the bottom due to the fact the case moved on quickly just a few hours later.

Muhammad Rizalman bin Ismail stands accused of a number of charges related to Tania Billingsley.

The former Malaysian diplomatic staffer accused of sexually assaulting a Wellington woman will go on trial this week.

Muhammad Rizalman bin Ismail, 39, is due in the High Court at Wellington this morning where he faces charges of burglary and assault with intent to commit sexual violation over an incident in the suburb of Brooklyn last year.

The case caused controversy after it was revealed Rizalman was allowed to return to Malaysia following a blunder by New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The former defence attache has since returned and denies the charges.

Ms Billingsley waived suppression so she could take her case public.  And public it went.  TV3 and the Green Party’s Jan Logie constructed a story suggesting that John Key and Murray McCully were indirectly culpable for the alleged deliberate act where Rizalman bin Ismail was allowed to return to Malaysia without facing charges.

This situation was reversed as the Malaysian government sent Rizalman bin Ismail back to New Zealand where he’s been awaiting trial for about a year now.

The Green Party, TV3 and the womens’ rights groups all piled in and presented a case for the prosecution in public without any balance.  I took that role, asking some pertinent questions (as yet unanswered), and was naturally vilified for it and smeared as someone who essentially “raped” Ms Billingley a second time.  Somewhat extreme, as she was never raped in the first place, but that’s how extreme the rhetoric went.

The media painted this as some kind of random attack, a stalking, a home invasion and an attempted rape.  Closer scrutiny of the meagre facts as they existed in public at the time appeared to paint a different picture.  It appeared possible that the two knew each other, had a previous relationship (not suggesting anything beyond friendship here), there was a statement that a protection order was in place to keep Rizalman bin Ismail a minimum distance away.

It also appeared that he followed her home, made his way inside – perhaps simply by opening the door or pushing past her – and then something happened that, as far as the incomplete details at the time, does not appear to include any physical contact of a sexual nature.  I questioned the “rape” label at the time.  It was a serious accusation that required genuine facts to back it up.

All this may be completely wrong.  Or it may be completely right.  That’s exactly the point I made at the time – that we only had one side of the story, amplified by media and political interests, and that the truth required both sides to be heard and considered.

I suspect that Ms Billingsley’s agreement to forego suppression will now come back to haunt her again.  At the time it served the purpose to make a case for women’s rights and I’m personally convinced it kind of spiralled away on Tania when the political and Media Party dimensions took her story away from her and twisted it into hits on the government.

Let me be clear – I absolutely abhor any stalking, violence, home invasion and any coerced activity (we still need to discover publicly what really happened).

But I equally called into question TV3’s hit job and the Green Party’s cynical use of Ms Billingsley as they used her as political ammunition against John Key.  We recently saw another attempt to attack John Key with sexual smears related to the Aussie detention centre Kiwis.

When people, women, try to destroy other people, men, by using the most feared weapon of all:  that of being part of or supportive of sexual crimes in any way, that’s almost as bad as the real thing.   Reason is lost, hysteria replaces it, and the only outcome is damage to both sides.

So I welcome the opportunity to finally discover and consider the facts in this case.   It may very well be that Rizalman bin Ismail is a disgusting predator and he needs to be dealt with to the full extent of the law.  I’m not defending him in any way, especially if he’s guilty of the worst of what Billingsley, TV3 and Logie accused him of.

But I equally welcome the opportunity to hear what a court of law is going to be told.  The man was very hard done by in a legal sense when the anti-men brigade with the help of TV3 decided to prosecute this case in public – mostly to try and smear John Key and Murray McCully.   It’s the latter I objected to, and no matter the eventual guilt or level of crimes Rizalman bin Ismail has actually committed, TV3 and Jan Logie are beneath contempt to have used Tania Billingsley that way.

 

Update

A former military attache with the Malaysian High Commission in Wellington has pleaded guilty to attacking a woman in her home.

Muhammad Rizalman bin Ismail was due for a three-week jury trial on Monday but indicated late last week that he would change his plea on one of the charges he faced. …

He was initially charged with indecent assault, assault with intent to commit sexual violation and burglary by remaining in a building.

However, in a pre-trial hearing on Friday, Rizalman’s lawyer, Dr Donald Stevens QC, told Justice David Collins that his client would change his not-guilty pleas.  The information was suppressed until Monday.

Rizalman, 39,  had been arrested on May 10, 2014, following the alleged attack in Billingsley’s home in the Wellington suburb of Brooklyn.  He left New Zealand without facing trial after Malaysia invoked diplomatic immunity – in the belief it did so with the blessing of the New Zealand Government.

He returned to New Zealand escorted by police after extradition hearings were filed in Malaysia.

At the time of the alleged attack he had been working at the Malaysian High Commission as a military attache.

Alleged victim Billingsley waived her right to name suppression before a district court judge

On Monday, Justice Collins took the guilty plea to the one charge of indecent assault.  Crown solicitor Grant Burston then offered no evidence of the other two charges and the judge discharged Rizalman on both.

Stevens asked the judge not to enter a conviction, saying he would be asking for a discharge without conviction on the charge.

A trial was expected to hear from Billingsley, witnesses and doctors about Rizalman’s behaviour that night.

He had followed her home and allegedly entered her house after taking his trousers off outside.  After a struggle inside the house he was pushed outside and Billingsley hid in the bathroom until police arrived.

Rizalman was found just down the road from her home.

Sadly, the pertinent facts have still not become public as a plea deal was reached.  But it is clear that the Crown’s case to convict Rizalman for an attempted rape was fanciful from the outset.

I’m somewhat frustrated that we may never know the truth publicly.  Although this is a good outcome for Ms Billingsley in the sense that she is now less likely to be exposed as having been used as a political football, the down-side is that Rizalman may just get away with a very light smack on the wrist for something that could conceivably have ended up a lot more gruesome.

The whole thing leaves me dissatisfied.  The other person that gets a lucky escape here is Jan Logie.  I really would like to have seen her callous use of Ms Billingsley exposed further.

 

– NZN via 3 News, Stuff


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

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