Tania Billingsley to family of alleged Malaysian attacker: I know you are victims too


(The Malay Mail) – Even as she vented her anger and frustration at the way the authorities were dealing with her sexual assault, New Zealander Tania Billingsley voiced sympathy with the Malaysian family of her alleged attacker.

In an interview on New Zealand television today, the 21-year-old highlighted that she was not the only person to have suffered in the international storm following her alleged assault, pointing out that the family of junior envoy Muhammad Rizalman Ismail likely felt entrapped by the situation.

“They’re also victims in what has happened and I can’t even imagine how hard the last couple of months have been for them,” Billingsley said on the Kiwi TV3’s 3rd Degree programme today.

The military assistant, formerly attached to the Malaysian High Commission in Wellington, has a wife and three children.

“They’re probably not watching this but I hope the message gets back to them that I’m thinking about them as well and hope they’re being supported where they are because I think that people aren’t really acknowledging that this has probably been horrible and life-changing for them as well as me,” she was quoted saying on the New Zealand news agency’s website.

Billingsley made her first public appearance today, revealing herself as the woman at the centre of the sex case that had nearly unravelled New Zealand-Malaysia ties.

She said she chose to forego court protection of her identity because she was “frustrated” and “angry” with her country’s leaders for their lackadaisical response to her alleged assault.

She had accused Muhammad Rizalman of breaking into her home last May with the intent to rape her.

He was arrested by Kiwi police on May 9 on allegations of burglary and attempted sexual assault on Billingsley.

He was charged in a New Zealand court the next day for burglary and assault with intent to commit rape, with both charges carrying the maximum penalty of a 10-year jail term.

The junior envoy has since returned to Malaysia, taking advantage of the diplomatic immunity.

The Malaysian government however announced last week that he will be returning to New Zealand to be tried there.

There have been no further confirmation on the exact date of his return as he is currently undergoing mental and emotional evaluation tests, the New Zealand Herald reported last week, citing an unnamed doctor at the Tuanku Military Hospital in Malaysia.

The envoy would not be discharged until the medical examinations were complete, the doctor said.

His request for his return to be delayed until after Hari Raya was also denied by New Zealand authorities, according to media reports.