KOTA KINABALU — The four tourists arrested for stripping naked on Mount Kinabalu may not only be charged in the civil court but also the native court.
Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Masidi Manjun said this was possible as the tourists had breached native customs as well as civil law for public indecency.
“Technically, they can be hauled to both courts. Its for the courts to decide. Let’s let the law take its course,” he said when contacted by the Malay Mail Online.
Canadians siblings Ms Lindsey Petersen, 23 and Ms Danielle Peterson, 22, Dutch national Mr Dylan Snel, 23, and Briton Ms Eleanor Hawkins, 24 have been remanded for four days ending Saturday (June 6) by Ranau-based magistrate Dzul Elmy to facilitate investigations into their alleged stripping incident on Mount Kinabalu.
A lawyer who declined to be named, also agreed that the case could be heard in both civil and native courts if they deemed it necessary.
“It has been done before, and the native court does feel it is necessary in this particular case,” he said.
It was also reported by the Malay Mail Online on Tuesday that Ranau native chief Taip Rashman, in consultation with the native court council, said that the case should be tried there as it was a breach of customary law in their area.
He said that they will do their best to see that the proper “sogit” or “cooling down compensation” was imposed on the offenders to the aggrieved party.
Sabah Police Commissioner Jalaluddin Abdul Rahman had earlier said they were expecting to complete investigations pertaining to the stripping incident on Mount Kinabalu by tomorrow.
“We want to complete our investigations as soon as possible and pass the papers to the deputy public prosecutor for further action,” he said.
The four under police custody are part of the five out of the 10 suspects first identified by Sabah Parks. The fifth was arrested and released on Monday.
“The identities of the others could not be ascertained as they did not provide their complete name and passport when they registered prior to scaling the mountain,” he said, in urging Sabah Parks make it compulsory for climbers to provide their full passport details in the future.
The four tourists, who are not eligible for bail, are being investigated by Ranau district police under Section 294(a) of the Penal code for public indecency, which carries a sentence of up to three months jail or fine or both if convicted.
Police had arrested Ms Hawkins at the Tawau airport when she attempted to board a plane while the other three had surrendered themselves at the Kota Kinabalu police station.
All four are currently being held at the Kota Kinabalu police station.
A police report lodged by Sabah Parks staff alleged that 10 tourists had stripped and posed naked for photos on Mount Kinabalu’s peak on May 30 and reportedly rebuffed their local guide who tried to stop them, telling him to “go to hell”.
The act has angered natives who believe that the mountain is sacred and carries the spirit of their ancestors.
Deputy chief minister Joseph Pairin Kitingan has since blamed a magnitude 5.9 earthquake which has so far killed at least 18 people on the disrespectful act.