European man associated with 'naked tourists' on Mount Kinabalu detained, released

KOTA KINABALU (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK, AFP) - One of the foreign tourists associated with a group of 10 wanted by police for stripping and urinating on top of Mount Kinabalu on May 30 was briefly detained and released on Monday.

Sabah CID chief Sr Asst Comm II Datuk Sallehuddin Abdul Rahman confirmed the detention of a 38-year old European who was planning to leave for the Philippines after arriving from Tawau at about 4.20pm Monday.

He said that the man was not part of the 10 wanted foreigners against whom a report was lodged by Sabah Parks officials.

The case is being investigated under Section 290 of the Penal Code for public nuisance, which carries a fine of up to RM400 (S$144).

Sallehuddin said the man was part of a larger group of 27 who scaled the mountain on May 30.

In the group were 10 others who posed naked and started urinating on the mountain, photographs of which went viral on social media.

Mount Kinabalu, a World Heritage Site and popular climbing destination, is considered sacred by Sabah's Kadazan Dusun tribal group, who believe it is a resting place for spirits. The pictures infuriated many in Malaysia.

On Friday a 6.0-magnitude quake struck near the mountain, sending landslides crashing down from its summit just as more than 150 hikers were at the peak enjoying sunrise views.

Sixteen people have been confirmed killed on the mountain and two remain missing.

In the wake of the disaster, Malaysian social media users and some Sabah officials have focused on the nudists, suggesting that their actions angered the spirits and led to the earthquake.

"This will certainly bring misfortune... we can't play with the spirit of the sacred mountain," deputy state chief minister Joseph Pairin Kitingan had told reporters on Saturday.

Canadian media, citing the country's foreign ministry, had earlier reported that two siblings identified as Lindsey Petersen, 23, and Danielle Petersen, 22, had been barred from leaving Sabah over the affair.

But Malaysian immigration and police officials have not confirmed this. Officials at the Canadian embassy could not be reached for comment.