Aussies discharged after apology
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.