'Budgie nine' Australians escape conviction for Malaysian underwear outrage

The Budgie Nine
The Budgie Nine

The so-called "budgie nine" have managed to escape convictions for their behaviour in Malaysia.

The nine Australians were arrested for indecency after they stripped down to skimpy togs - nicknamed budgie smugglers in Australia - emblazoned with the Malaysian flag, during the country's Grand Prix.

The group pleaded guilty to charges of public nuisance when they appeared in court on Thursday and were let off by the judge after being cautioned and discharged.

The men were handcuffed together when they appeared, and the gravity of their situation appeared to have sunk in.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported one man fainted, while another read out a letter of apology for what he said was a "moment of folly".

"We are truly sorry for disrespecting the Malaysian flag and people," he said.

Malaysian police were hoping 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 was also being considered, carrying a maximum term of six months behind bars.

The men's lawyer said he believed the men had left the country immediately after their court appearance.