Symbolic sentence for tourists posing nude in Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, (IANS) A Malaysian court sentenced on Friday four tourists among a group blamed for triggering an earthquake by posing naked on Malaysia’a sacred Mount Kinabalu tourists to three days in prison and a fine.

A 5.9-magnitude earthquake struck the 13,400-foot-high mountain on June 5, killing 18 people and leaving hundreds stranded,

Those accused — Briton Eleanor Hawkins, 23, one of the four Westerners Dutch national Dylan Snel, 23, and Canadian siblings Lindsey, 23, and Danielle Petersen, 22 — pleaded guilty to obscene public behaviour before the judge in Kota Kinabalu, in Sabah state.

The judge also imposed a fine of 5,000 ringit ($1,331) on the four tourists, who appeared in court handcuffed in pairs, Efe news agency reported.

The four foreigners were a part of a group of 27 tourists making a descent after having climbed the peak on May 29, where they photographed themselves nude.

The Hunt is on for six other tourist who also participated in the incident.

According to the accusation, the tourists dared to get photographed nude despite low temperatures at the mountain peak, at an altitude of 13,123 feet, amid warnings from the guide against such behaviour.

Defence lawyer Ronnie Chiam highlighted the tourists’ ignorance and regret as a plea of mitigation, and said that they wished to “publicly apologise” to the people of Sabah and Malaysia.

According to an earlier report in the Malaysian Star, Hawkins was arrested at the Tawau airport on Tuesday and flown to Kota Kinabalu. Snel, together with Lindsey and Danielle, surrendered themselves the same evening.

A photo of them among 10 tourists stripping on the mountain went viral on social media and in the aftermath of the June 5 earthquake, local native leaders have blamed the earthquake on the antics of the tourists.

The indigenous people believe that Mount Kinabalu is sacred and any act of disrespect to the spirits of the mountain may result in a bad omen.

Ethnic leaders are preparing rituals to appease the spirits of the mountain this weekend.

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