British woman blamed for triggering earthquake after 'disrespecting mountain' is 'very sorry'
Published 11/06/2015 | 09:30
A British graduate blamed for triggering an earthquake by showing "disrespect" to a sacred mountain by allegedly posing naked on the peak is "very scared" as she waits in custody to hear if she will be charged.
Eleanor Hawkins, 23, is among a group of Western backpackers who have been arrested after photos emerged of them allegedly stripping naked on Mount Kinabalu in Malaysia.
A magnitude-5.9 earthquake struck the 13,400ft-high mountain last Friday, killing 18 people and leaving hundreds more stranded.
Timothy Hawkins said his daughter is "very upset" as she waits to hear if she will be prosecuted over allegations of indecent behaviour. He also said his daughter knows what she did was "stupid and disrespectful and is very sorry for the offence that she has caused".
Miss Hawkins, an aeronautical engineering graduate from Derby in England, was detained on Tuesday at Tawau airport as she was flying from the island of Borneo to the capital, Kuala Lumpur.
Read more here: University graduate faces jail over naked photos on mountain
Mr Hawkins said: "We spoke to her. She's OK, she's very scared, she's very upset.
"She's been arrested. It's not a situation she's been in before so it's not good. We've talked to the consulate and arranged a lawyer."
Mr Hawkins, who runs a mechanical engineering business, said his daughter is "obviously in the photos" but he did not want the situation to be "blown out of all proportion".
"It's fair enough to charge for the misdemeanour committed," he said. "What we don't want is her lumbered with further charges."
Miss Hawkins is believed to be part of a group of 10 people who stripped naked before taking photos at the peak of Mount Kinabalu on May 30.
Sabah state deputy chief minister Joseph Pairin Kitingan in Malaysia blamed the earthquake six days later on the tourists for showing "disrespect to the sacred mountain".
Read more here: Mount Kinabalu: The sacred - and dangerous - mountain
He has said a special ritual will be conducted to "appease the mountain spirit".
Mr Hawkins said he did not want to prejudice his daughter's case by voicing his views on Mr Kitingan's belief that the group's act caused the earthquake.
But he criticised the actions of an arrested Canadian - named in reports as 33-year-old Emil Kaminski - who is said to have circulated the photos and posted offensive comments on social media.
Mr Hawkins said: "What I will say is the guy stirring up a media storm - the halfwit Canadian guy - is not doing anyone any favours."
Mr Kaminski appears to have posted a string of defiant and inflammatory comments on his Facebook page dismissing criticisms of the group's behaviour.
He has made a 12-minute YouTube video of himself, entitled Trolling Malaysia, in which he hits out at criticisms of himself and the photos by saying: "Jesus Christ, people, it is just a f****** mountain."
He also lashed out at Sabah's tourism minister, Masidi Manjun, whom he branded "an idiot" for reportedly linking the earthquake to the naked photos.
On a Twitter account believed to belong to Mr Kaminski, he wrote: "Solitary confinement = no sex, but on the upside, excellent wifi in my cell."
Miss Hawkins's lawyer Ronny Cham said his client is holding up, but faces an anxious wait to hear if she will be prosecuted.
He said: "Everything is awaiting now for the police to do the investigation and as to when they will charge her or whether they will charge her, we do not know. Nobody knows.
"When they are ready to charge her, I think they will let me know. They are remanded for four days, which is up until Saturday."
He said he has spoken to Miss Hawkins. Asked how she is coping, he said "I think she is fine" but added that he did not want to comment on the specifics because he does not want to jeopardise her case.
Miss Hawkins, who recently graduated with a master's in aeronautical engineering from Southampton University, was in the middle of an extended trip around south east Asia which began in January, according to reports.
Police obtained a court order to detain her and three other westerners for four days while they are investigated for indecent behaviour, Sabah state police chief Jalaluddin Abdul Rahman said.
Two Canadian siblings, Lindsey and Danielle Petersen, and a Dutch male surrendered at a police station in Sabah on Tuesday evening, he said.