Woman accused of triggering earthquake by posing naked pleads guilty to 'obscene acts in public'
Published 12/06/2015 | 08:57
A British woman blamed for triggering an earthquake by posing naked on a sacred mountain has pleaded guilty to "obscene acts in public".
Eleanor Hawkins, 23, appeared before a court in Malaysia this morning.
The university graduate is among a group of Western backpackers arrested after photos emerged of them stripping naked on Mount Kinabalu in Malaysia.
She was driven to Kota Kinabalu Magistrates' Court by officials wearing balaclavas, and arrived shortly before 8am (BST) dressed in a dark top with her hair over her face. She was ushered into court by guards as international media clamoured to get an image of her.
She is due to appear in court alongside three other defendants - Canadian siblings Lindsey and Danielle Petersen, and a Dutch man - following the mountaintop incident.
Prosecution carries a possible three-month prison sentence or a fine.
A magnitude-5.9 earthquake struck the 13,400ft-high mountain last Friday, killing 18 people and leaving hundreds more stranded.
Sabah state deputy chief minister Joseph Pairin Kitingan blamed the earthquake six days later on travellers showing "disrespect to the sacred mountain".
Read more here: Mount Kinabalu: The sacred - and dangerous - mountain
The group of 10 tourists stripped naked before taking photos at the peak of Kinabalu on May 30.
Miss Hawkins's lawyer Ronny Cham said: "She may be charged today or have her bail extended. I don't know."
Yesterday her father said his daughter was sorry for any offence caused by her actions.
He said: "She knows what she did was stupid and disrespectful and is very sorry for the offence that she has caused the Malaysian people."
Read more here: University graduate faces jail over naked photos on mountain
He added: "We hope that the Malaysian authorities deal with the misdemeanour and not link it to the unfortunate tragic events that occurred the following week."
Mr Hawkins criticised 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.
He accused the "halfwit Canadian guy" of "stirring up a media storm".
Read more here: British tourist faces jail over naked photos on mountain
Miss Hawkins, who recently graduated with a masters in aeronautical engineering from Southampton University, was in the middle of a gap year travelling around south-east Asia which began in January.
She went to Malaysia at the start of May and later that month travelled to Borneo.
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.
The three other defendants appearing in court today surrendered at a police station in Sabah on Tuesday evening, he said.