Derby

Arrested Mount Kinabalu 'nudist' admits 'stupidity'

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Media captionThe image has sparked anger in Malaysia, as Jennifer Pak reports

A British woman arrested for posing naked on Malaysia's Mount Kinabalu has admitted she was "stupid and disrespectful", her father says.

Eleanor Hawkins, 23, from Derbyshire, is among a group of 10 people who stripped before taking photographs at the peak of the mountain on 30 May.

Timothy Hawkins said he expects his daughter, who is "very sorry", to plead guilty in court on Monday.

Malaysian officials said she could be charged with causing public nuisance.

Miss Hawkins, who was head girl at independent Ockbrook School, will be sentenced straight away and could face three months' imprisonment or a fine, her father said.

Image copyright Other
Image caption Eleanor Hawkins is "preparing for the worst" her dad said

Mr Hawkins, who has spoken to his daughter, said he was "horrified" to see her on the front pages of national newspapers.

He said the situation should not be "blown out of all proportion".

'Angered spirits'

Last Friday, Mt Kinabalu was hit by a magnitude 6.0 earthquake, which left 18 people dead, including children.

A senior minister last week said the tourists had angered spirits by showing "disrespect" to the mountain, which is considered sacred by some tribes in Malaysia.

Image copyright TIM STEWART NEWS LIMITED
Image caption Climbers on the 4,095 m (13,435ft) Mount Kinabalu are told to respect the mountain by local guides

Ms Hawkins and three other western tourists appeared in court on Wednesday to have their remand extended, according to Malaysian newspaper The Star.

They will be held until Saturday while police continue to investigate.

Mr Hawkins - who said his daughter was "obviously in the photos" - said: "It's fair enough to charge for the misdemeanour committed.

"What we don't want is her lumbered with further charges."

Asked how his daughter is, he said: "As far as I know, she is OK. She is a very intelligent, stoic young woman and she's OK.

"I think she is preparing herself for the worst, just in case."

'Every faith'

But he added it was "not a situation she's been in before, so it's not good".

In a separate interview with the Guardian newspaper, he said: "I have got every faith in [Malaysia's] judicial system. I just hope they don't make an example of them."

Miss Hawkins's former school described the ex-head girl as a "valued and accomplished student", who carried out volunteer work in Botswana in 2008 and raised more than £8,000 for charities.

"It appears that Eleanor has made an error of judgement in this case and her actions have angered many people as well as attracting press coverage," a spokesman said.

"We at Ockbrook School send our wishes of support and strength to Eleanor and her family at this difficult time as she reflects on her situation."

Image copyright TIM STEWART NEWS LIMITED
Image caption Many in Malaysia were angered when pictures of the group were circulated

Ranau district police chief Mohd Farhan Lee Abdullah confirmed to the BBC the authorities had arrested Ms Hawkins at Tawau Airport in Sabah on Tuesday.

Two Canadian tourists, who are siblings, and a Dutchman turned themselves in to police on the same day.

Their lawyer Ronny Cham told the BBC's Jennifer Pak he had requested the four be held apart from other detainees in order to ensure their safety.

Jalaluddin Abdul Rahman, Sabah's police commissioner, said officials were still looking for six other tourists from the same group.

MP for Erewash, Maggie Throup, said she had been reassured the Foreign and Commonwealth Office was doing everything possible to support her constituent Miss Hawkins and her family, who live in Draycott, Derbyshire.

She said she was "hopeful of an early resolution to this matter".

Malaysia, a Muslim-majority country, is socially conservative.

Mount Kinabalu is also considered sacred by Sabah's Kadazan Dusun tribe.

Pictures posted on social media angered many in Malaysia, but public sentiment intensified after the earthquake.


Why is Kinabalu sacred?

Image copyright AFP
  • Sabah's Kadazan Dusun tribe believe the mountain houses the spirits of their dead ancestors
  • The name Kinabalu is derived from the tribe's phrase "Aki Nabalu", which means resting place of the dead
  • Climbers are told by guides, many of whom are Kadazan Dusun, to treat the mountain with respect and to refrain from shouting, screaming or cursing at it
  • Every December the tribe conducts a ritual called the Monolob to appease the spirits and allow climbers to continue visiting the mountain
  • A priestess, called a Bobolian, makes an offering of seven white chickens accompanied by seven chicken eggs, betel nuts, tobacco, limestone powder, and betel plant leaves. The Bobolian leads a chant and the chickens are then slaughtered, cooked, and given to the ceremony participants
  • In the past, this ceremony was conducted before every ascent, and climbers used the cooked meat as rations for their journey

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