New Zealand has pressed the Malaysian government to take action against a diplomat who claimed immunity and left the country after being charged with committing a sexual assault in May.

Prime Minister John Key told reporters on Tuesday that he had told the Malaysian government that New Zealand expected Mohammed Rizalman Bin Ismail to answer the charges 

Earlier, a court had ordered the suppression of the Malaysian defence ministry official's identity to be lifted, the Reuters news agency reported.

Rizalman was attached to the Malaysian high commission in Wellington and was arrested in early May on suspicion of burglary and assault with intent to rape.

After one brief court appearance, he returned to Malaysia. 

Malaysian Foreign Minister, Anifah Aman, told reporters that Malaysia had offered to waive Rizalman's diplomatic immunity to enable his prosecution in New Zealand, but that New Zealand had "offered an alternative" for him to return to his own country.

"With the agreement of the NZ side, the accused person and his family returned to Malaysia on May 22," Anifah said in a statement.

Malaysia's defence ministry had established a board of inquiry to investigate the case and would not hesitate to take "stern action" against the accused if he was found guilty, the statement said.

Key said Rizalman could be assured of a fair trial if he was sent back to face the charges, which carry maximum penalties of up to 10 years in jail.

Source: Agencies