Eleanor Hawkins handed jail sentence for naked pictures
Four tourists in court after Malaysian tribes blamed nude prank for Mount Kinabalu earthquake
The 23-year-old British woman who posed for topless pictures at the top of Malaysia's sacred Mount Kinabalu has been sentenced to three days in prison and fined £850.
Having already spent three days in jail, Eleanor Hawkins, from Derby, and three other tourists were freed by a judge in Kota Kinabalu after admitting that they had stripped off at the peak of the mountain on the island of Borneo on 30 May.
BBC correspondent Jennifer Pak, who was in court, said the group – which also included Canadian sisters Lindsey Petersen, 23, and Danielle Peterson, 22, and Dutch national Dylan Snel, 23 – were waiting to pay their fines before being deported.
They were arrested earlier this week amid outcry from local tribes, who claimed the behaviour had caused a magnitude-6.0 earthquake that hit the region last Friday.
Police are looking for six other foreigners who were at the top of the mountain with them.
The court heard that some of the group had urinated in a pond during the incident, causing offence to tribal elders.
Earlier today, The Sun said it would hand over ten buffalo to tribal chiefs in a bid to free Hawkins.
The idea apparently came after Sabah's chief tribal priest Tindarama Aman Sirom Simbuna said the tourists should pay a fine or "sogit" of ten buffalo.
The newspaper said it had reporters in the country "ready to do a deal and hand over ten buffalo, each costing about 1,500 Malaysian Ringgit (around £260), in order to end Ellie's prison ordeal".
But Ingrid Newkirk, president of the animal welfare group Peta, urged Hawkins to use any possible jail time for self-reflection rather than allowing the buffalo transaction. In a letter to the 23-year-old, she wrote: "We implore you to turn down this proposal and not to sentence ten vulnerable animals to pay with their lives for something that had nothing to do with them."
Eleanor Hawkins sorry for nude pictures on Mount Kinabalu
A 23-year-old British woman arrested for allegedly stripping on Malaysia's sacred Mount Kinabalu has apologised for causing offence.
Eleanor Hawkins, from Derby, is among a group of ten people accused of taking nude and topless photographs at the peak of the mountain on the island of Borneo on 30 May.
Local tribes were outraged by the alleged behaviour and even blamed the group for a magnitude-6.0 earthquake that hit the region last Friday, killing 18 people and devastating local villages.
Hawkins and three other western tourists – including two sisters from Canada and a man from the Netherlands – were last night locked in a Malaysian jail. Police are said to be searching for the remaining six suspects and the group could face up to three months in jail if convicted of performing an obscene act in a public place.
Ronny Cham, the lawyer acting for the tourists, has asked for them to be detained separately from other prisoners for safety reasons.
"People are laying blame on them for offending the mountain," he told a local newspaper. "There is a lot of stupidity involved and unfortunately politicians have jumped on the bandwagon to condemn them for causing the earthquake, which is ridiculous."
Local tribes believe the mountain is home to the spirits of their dead ancestors, says the BBC, with the name "Kinabalu" deriving from a phrase that means resting place of the dead.
According to The Times, Hawkins has a masters degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Southampton and had been travelling along on a gap year around southeast Asia.
Her father Timothy said she was "pretty scared and was crying" when he spoke to her. "It was disrespectful and a bit stupid but she didn't realise that at the time. Of course she didn't cause the earthquake, but she is deeply sorry for any offence that she caused."
He added that it was "fair enough" that she should be charged for the "misdemeanour" committed but said he hoped the authorities would not make an example of her by lumbering her with further charges.