The Kota Kinabalu Sessions Court today sentenced four foreign tourists to three days jail each, from the date of their arrest and fined RM5,000 in default three months jail for committing an obscene act on Mount Kinabalu.
The tourists who were arrested on June 9, paid the fine via their counsel at about 7pm. They will be deported soon.
Judge Dean Wayne Daly meted out the sentence on British national Eleanor Grace Hawkins, 23; Dutch national Dylan Thomas Snel, 23; and Canadian nationals and siblings, Lindsey Peterson, 23, and Daniella Anne Louisa, 22.
The four, who appeared calm when the charge was read out to them, pleaded guilty to committing the offence by being naked in the peak vicinity of Mount Kinabalu at 6.45am on May 30.
They were charged under Section 294 (a) of the Penal Code which carries a jail term of up to three months or a fine or both upon conviction.
In his ruling, Daly said the court accepted their guilty plea as a mitigating factor, but their act had caught the nation by surprise and caused public uproar.
"The community, especially in Ranau, were annoyed by their actions as they consider Mount Kinabalu sacred," he added.
The four foreigners were represented by counsel Ronny Cham, while deputy public prosecutor Jamil Aripin led the three-man prosecution team.
According to the facts of the case, the four were among 10 foreign climbers who challenged each other to strip naked to see who among them could withstand the cold on the peak.
Their mountain guide, Azlan Ramli advised them against doing so but was ignored by them.
The women resorted to being only topless, while the men were completely naked.
In mitigation, Cham said the four regretted their actions and as a gesture of remorse, they were willing to offer a public apology to the people of Sabah and Malaysia.
"Their gesture of remorse is also to bind themselves with an undertaking that they will not repeat the act again," he said.
Cham also urged the court not to mete out a jail sentence as they had already paid a heavy price due to their ignorant act and the ensuing publicity, nationally and internationally.
He also emphasised there was no scientific or credible evidence to attribute the earthquake which shook Ranau on June 5, to his clients' offences.
Jamil urged the court to pass a deterrent sentence by first considering public interest.
"Many people were outraged by the act which caused annoyance among the people.
"Malaysia always welcomes visitors to this country, but we expect them to respect the people and the cultures of the place they visit," he said.
Earlier, the four were brought into the court complex about 2.44pm in two four-wheel drive vehicles.
Heavily guarded by policemen, members of local and international press scrambled to take their photographss.
Hawkins was clad in maroon T-shirt and jeans, Snel in white T-shirt and jeans, and Lindsey wore a light blue shirt and jeans, while Daniella wore dark T-shirt and jeans.
Meanwhile, a weak earthquake, with a magnitude of 3.3 on the Richter scale, occurred at 6.08pm today in Ranau, according to the Malaysian Meteorological Department.
It said the epicentre of the quake was 6.0 degrees north and 116.7 degrees east, about 6 km south-east of Ranau.
Ranau is recovering from a 5.9-magnitude earthquake that struck on June 5, claiming 18 lives.