Australian Formula One star Daniel Ricciardo believes the nine Australians arrested for celebrating his Malaysian Grand Prix win in their budgie smugglers should be released and escape serious sanctions.
The nine men were arrested for indecency after not quite baring all while wearing swimwear emblazoned with the Malaysian flag.
They could be jailed for up to two years under Malaysian law but Ricciardo told NewsCorp Australia’s Herald Sun he hoped they would be freed.
“They’ve been arrested, so that already in my books is lesson learned,” he said.
“I guess when they travel next time they will check the laws for where they go but, for me, there is no reason for anything else to happen.
“Obviously, Malaysia has their law and whatever will be, but from my side, personally, they were just enjoying the celebration and obviously it just went a step too far for those laws.
“I see it as pretty harmless.”
Malaysian police hope to charge the men with “intentional insult”, with a minimum penalty of a fine and a maximum two-year prison term.
A lesser charge of insulting Malaysia’s national emblem is also being considered, carrying a maximum term of six months behind bars.
The group’s actions drew criticism from Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop.
“They are facing certain charges and what might be seen as a foolish prank or Aussie blokey behaviour in Australia can be seen very differently in another country,” she said.
— Global Issues Web (@globalissuesweb) October 5, 2016
Group to face court today
The group spent a fourth night in custody, but will appear in court this morning, according to a chief investigator in the case.
The nine men, aged between 25 and 29, are being held in two cells at the Sepang police station, near the Formula One race track where they were arrested on Sunday.
The public prosecutor has delayed making any announcement on charges they face, but Malaysia’s attorney-general’s office must either seek an extension in detention time, charge the men, or release them by today.
A chief investigating officer has told the ABC they will appear in the Sepang Magistrates court on Thursday morning and are likely to be charged — although it remains unclear with what and whether they will be returned to detention or deported.
Under Malaysian law the Australians, including a staffer of the Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne, can be held for four days before charges are laid.
That time is due to expire Thursday afternoon.
They were sentenced to three days in jail, fined 5000 Malaysian ringgit ($A1580) and deported.