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Rizalman: In M'sia, a woman's smile is an invitation to follow

Malaysiakini  |  Published:  |  Modified:

Former defence attache Muhammad Rizalman Ismail who is facing a hearing for sexual assault in New Zealand told the Wellington High Court that it was a Malaysian custom that women who smile are inviting men to follow them.

Rizalman said this in response to questions from Crown prosecutor Grant Burston who asked why the Malaysian had followed his alleged victim Tania Billingsley home and was subsequently accused of assaulting her.

According to the NZ Herald , Rizalman testified that he was "getting signals" from the way Billingsley smiled at him.

"Not from her speech but from her mannerisms and the way she smiled and the way she behaved.

"In Malaysian custom, if a woman smiles at a man it is deemed that they are happy to know that person," he said.

Burston then asked Rizalman if a woman's smile was an invitation to follow them home.

At this, he replied: "It is an invitation to follow. It wouldn't necessarily mean you go into their house."

The report said according to accounts of the event put together by the prosecution, Rizalman was buying pineapple and chips at a local supermarket in Wellington at 5.31pm and Billingsley shopped at the store 18 minutes later on May 9 last year.

Burston: You stared at the victim when she went into the shop?

Rizalman: I'm not sure.

Burston: She says you were staring at her when she came out.

Rizalman: When she had crossed in front of me I was sure she had given me a signal, eye contact.

Burston: She described you as being quite creepy?

Rizalman: I'm not sure.

The report then said Rizalman who followed Billingsley home told the court he waited outside her house for a long time as she had shut the doors and he was expecting her to invite him in.

'Naked from waist down'

Rizalman claimed he removed his pants and underpants because he had to urgently defecate and not because he wanted to have sex with Billingsley.

He claimed that he then proceeded into Billingsley's home through her closed but unlocked door to "clean" himself.

According to the report, the prosecution's summary of the incident said Rizalman removed his pants and underpants, then entered the woman's flat and then removed his jacket in the kitchen.

He then knocked on Billingsley's bedroom door, where she was watching a movie on her laptop, pushed it open and asked if he could come in.

"The victim looked up from her bed and observed the defendant standing in the entranceway to the bedroom, wearing only a shirt and naked from the waist down.

"Billingsley got up and began yelling and screaming for Rizalman to get out. He approached her and grabbed her shoulders and the pair struggled.

"Billingsley managed to push Rizalman out of her room. After removing him from the flat she locked the door and ran into the bathroom to call the police," said the report.

That night, the report added, Rizalman received 132 unanswered calls from his wife's cellphone.

The hearing is not to determine Rizalman's innocence as he had already pleaded guilty to indecent assault.

However, he is disputing certain facts of the case and the hearing is meant to establish which version the court will accept.

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