Aussies dis­charged af­ter apol­ogy

The Sun (Malaysia) - - NEWS WITHOUT BORDERS -

SEPANG: The nine Aus­tralian men who stripped down to their Jalur Gemi­lang-themed swim­ming trunks dur­ing Sun­day’s For­mula 1 race were dis­charged and strictly cau­tioned by the ses­sions court here yes­ter­day af­ter they pleaded guilty and apol­o­gised for their be­hav­iour.

De­spite all nine men hav­ing pleaded guilty for caus­ing public nui­sance, ses­sions judge Harith Sham Mo­hamed Yasin de­cided to in­voke Sec­tion 173 (A) of the Crim­i­nal Pro­ce­dure Code which al­lows judges or mag­is­trates with dis­cre­tionary pow­ers to dis­charge pun­ish­ment against those who pleaded guilty, con­di­tion­ally or un­con­di­tion­ally.

“What you have done was to­tally in­ap­pro­pri­ate and you have hurt the sen­si­tiv­ity of Malaysians. The el­e­ments in the flag are a sym­bol of sovereignty and of­fi­cial re­li­gion of the coun­try.

“You must con­sider that Malaysia has a dif­fer­ent cul­ture to yours. I hereby ex­er­cise my power in ac­cor­dance with Sec­tion 173 (A), and dis­charge you from the charge and cau­tion all of you,” he said.

Dur­ing mit­i­ga­tion, coun­sel Tan Sri Muham­mad Shafee Ab­dul­lah, who rep­re­sented all nine men, told Harith that the me­dia had wrongly re­ported that the men were wear­ing un­der­wear and briefs.

Clar­i­fy­ing that they were ac­tu­ally wear­ing swim­ming trunks, Shafee also told the court that hav­ing the na­tional flag em­bla­zoned in such at­tire is en­cour­aged in many other coun­tries and is even looked upon as a friendly act of pa­tri­o­tism. One of the ac­cused, Tom Whit­worth, 28, read out an apol­ogy dur­ing the mit­i­ga­tion. How­ever, he fainted shortly af­ter that but re­gained con­scious­ness mo­ments later.

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