updated 4/5/2008 6:32:03 PM ET 2008-04-05T22:32:03

An Easter Island tourist faces a $17,000 fine and three-year ban for chipping an earlobe off an ancient Maoi to take as a souvenir, Chilean press reported Saturday.

Marko Kulju, 26, of Finland also must make a public apology for damaging the figure, one of 400 volcanic-rock statues protected by Chilean law, according to the sentence recommended by an Easter Island prosecutor.

Local press reports said the sentence must be approved in court next week. Judicial authorities could not be reached on Saturday.

Kulju was surprised in the act at Anakena beach two weeks ago by a local Rapanui woman, who reported him to police on the 70-square-mile South Pacific island and Chilean territory.

Kulju already has said through a Chilean newspaper that he regrets the incident, which caused a national uproar.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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