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Friday, June 12, 2015
group blamed for a magnitude 5.9 earthquake after stripping on Mount Kinabalu
Briton Eleanor Hawkins, Canadians Lindsey and Danielle Peterson, and Dutchman Dylan Snel admitted causing a public disturbance.
The group was blamed for a magnitude 5.9 earthquake after stripping on Mount Kinabalu, which is considered sacred.
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 (£860/$1,330).
Foreign coverage of the story has been criticised in the Malaysian press.
Several local newspapers accused British tabloids of exaggerating reports that the tourists were arrested for causing the quake, rather than the actual charge of public indecency.
The Sabah-based Daily Express accused the papers of running "sensational" headlines, while the country's most popular English-language paper, The Star, said reports (pictured) alleging Hawkins and the others were arrested for angering mountain gods "couldn't be further from the truth".
Tourism minister, Masidi Manjun, said their acts would have merited punishment for breaking local laws and norms whether or not the earthquake took place.
Mr Masidi, who comes from the foothills of Mount Kinabalu, was also quoted in the Malay Mail as saying there had been some "fact-twisting" by foreign media.
"I don't know whether this is on purpose just to ridicule us, or their failure to appreciate our local traditions and customs," he said.
"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."
Last Friday, an earthquake struck killing 18 people, including children, and leaving hundreds more stranded.