Four Western tourists have been deported after posing naked on top of Malaysia’s highest mountain. Their actions angered many in Malaysia, where the peak is considered sacred to some tribal groups.
The four pleaded guilty Friday to obscene behavior, nearly two weeks after they stripped naked and snapped a series of photos atop Malaysia's Mount Kinabalu. They were nominally sentenced to three days in prison, the time they had spent in custody awaiting trial.
State news agency Bernama said the court in Kota Kinabalu gave the group the option of a 5,000-ringgit ($1,330 / 1,184-euro) fine, or spending three months in prison if they couldn't pay it. A lawyer for the defendants - Dylan Snel (pictured above) from the Netherlands, British student Eleanor Hawkins and Canadian siblings Lindsey Petersen and Danielle Peterson - said all had paid their fines and were due to be released later on Friday.
"They were remorseful and regretted their act, and offered to make a public apology," lawyer Ronny Cham said.
Mount Kinabalu, one of Southeast Asia's highest peaks, is believed by local tribes to be a resting place for the dead
The nude photos taken on the 4,095-meter (13,435-foot) peak in Malaysia's Sabah state caused a public outcry. Some Malaysians suggested the tourists had angered the mountain's tribal spirits, days later. Eighteen climbers died in the quake on June 5, while dozens more were trapped by landslides and rock falls.
In court, prosecutor Jamil Aripin acknowledged there was no link between the earthquake and the tourists' nudity, but said their actions had outraged the local community.
Sabah state Deputy Chief Minister Joseph Pairin Kitingan said at the time that the foreigners had shown disrespect to the peak, and that a special ritual would be performed to appease the mountain spirits.
"This is very offensive behavior and showed disrespect to the sacred mountain," he told reporters. "This will certainly bring misfortune."
Kinabalu is one of Malaysia's most popular climbing spots, attracting thousands of mountaineers from around the world each year.
nm/msh (Reuters, AP, AFP)