June 11, 2015

Nude student faces jail for 'causing deadly quake' at Malaysia

Indigenous Malaysians blame the natural disaster that killed 16 people on 10 Westerners who stripped off on Mount Kinabalu
British climber Eleanor Hawkins is facing three months in prison after being accused of causing an earthquake by 'stripping naked' on a sacred Malaysian mountain, Mirror Online can reveal.

This morning we revealed that the tourist was arrested by police who claimed she was part of a group of 10 Westerners stripping off the 4,000 metre tall Mount Kinabalu on May 30.

Six days later the country saw one of the biggest earthquakes in decades kill at least 16 people and locals blame the nude tourists for 'offending the mountain god'.

Speaking to the Mirror, Eleanor's lawyer Ronny Cham said she is "a bit traumatised" but is "okay because she is being looked after by the British consulate."

British backpacker Eleanor Hawkins In court
The 23-year-old, from Derby, was apprehended by police yesterday at Tawau airport after trying to board a plane to Kuala Lumpur, officials said.

She appeared in court this morning alongside three other defendants, two Canadians and one Dutch national.

The four were then locked up behind bars in the police headquarters but Mr Cham requested that they be held separate from Malaysian prisoners.

He added: "Because they are foreigners, they are not entitled to bail but I think there should be no doubt about her safety or her welfare because she is being looked after.

Daily Mirror tomorrow's front page: Nude student faces jail for 'causing deadly quake
"As far as the Malaysian police are concerned, they are being kept away from other prisoners and we have good diplomatic relations with the British consulate here."

The tourists will be kept behind bars until the public prosecutor makes a decision but they are facing charges of 'committing obscene acts in a public place'.

This would carry a maximum penalty of three months in prison plus a fine, Mr Cham explained.

Furious indigenous people in the city of Sabah claimed they 'angered the spirit of the mountain' after the picture went viral on Facebook and WhatsApp.

Earlier today, a Foreign Office spokesperson confirmed to Mirror Online that a British national has been arrested and said they are "providing consular assistance."

Deputy chief minister Tan Sri Alfred Jab also blamed the tourists for the tragedy and said they deserve to be punished.

Among those killed in the earthquake were a dozen students and at least one teacher on a school trip.

The area's MP Wilfred Tangau said: "It is all right, they can laugh at our Native Court. Go ahead.

"This is how we've been living for so long, without police and in harmony. So action must be taken."

Mr Jab told state media: "Some places have their own historical background and are sacred to the local community and, as such, visitors to these places should respect the place, the local traditions and cultures.

"If we go to a mountain, there is what I call a mountain protocol to be observed. We local people believe that there is someone, the guardians of these places, and there is a form of order of sacredness for those who go to the mountain to respect."

Earlier this morning, a British Foreign Office spokesperson told Mirror Online: "We can confirm a British national has been detained in Malaysia and we are providing consular assistance."

Mirror Online has approached the Malaysian Foreign Ministry for a comment.

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