Friday, 12 June 2015

Four tourists who posed naked on sacred Malaysian mountain jailed

The group on Mount Kinabalu

Four tourists who posed naked on a sacred mountain in Malaysia have been given jail terms and fined.
Briton Eleanor Hawkins, Canadians Lindsey and Danielle Peterson, and Dutchman Dylan Snel admitted causing a public disturbance
The group was blamed for causing a magnitude 5.9 earthquake after they stripped on Mount Kinabalu.
They were jailed for three days, but their sentences were back-dated to reflect time already served.
A judge at Kota Kinabalu Magistrates' Court said the four had shown remorse and ordered the jail terms to run from 9 June, meaning the group is free to leave.
He also fined each defendant 5,000 Malaysian ringgit ($1,331).
Miss Hawkins, from Derbyshire, and her co-accused all admitted a charge of "committing an obscene act in public".
Prosecutors said the four tourists, along with six others, climbed the peak to enjoy the sunrise on 30 May and then challenged each other to take off their clothes.
But the court amended the facts to agree the accused did not tell the guide to "shut up" or "go to hell" as the prosecution had alleged.
Their lawyer said they had simply ignored pleas not to remove their clothes, and had not verbally abused the guide.
Ronny Cham, representing the four, said they were ignorant of local customs and "their act had brought shame and ridicule upon themselves and their respective countries".
He asked the judge to not make an example of them, saying the intense international media coverage had traumatized them enough.
The prosecution argued the public interest was central to the case and, according to Malaysian law, anyone committing an "obscene act" which causes annoyance in a public place should be jailed for up to 3 months.
Many Malaysians had been outraged by the group's behaviour, he said, and the case was about "upholding the [country's] morals and customs"
Earlier, the four arrived at court accompanied by officials wearing balaclavas.
The accused covered their faces as they entered the building, surrounded by a media scrum.
"There's a lot of public anger still against the tourists because many of them believe Mount Kinabalu is a sacred spot where their souls go to rest when they die," Ms Pak said.
"The fact that these foreigners are alleged to have stripped on the peak, urinated and cursed at staff members trying to stop them is something that many locals say is disrespectful."
On Friday last week, an earthquake struck killing 18 people, including children, and leaving hundreds more stranded.
Sabah state deputy chief minister Joseph Pairin Kitingan blamed it on the travellers showing "disrespect to the sacred mountain".
News agency AFP said police were still seeking five other suspects but some were thought to have already left Sabah. 


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