Backpacker jail threat after topless mountain stunt

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A British backpacker faces three months in jail after posing topless on a sacred Malaysian mountain in an act blamed by a local tribe for causing an earthquake.

Gap year traveller Eleanor Hawkins, 23, from Derby was among a group of ten people alleged to have stripped before taking photographs at the peak of the mountain on May 30.

Officials in Malaysia say she could be charged with causing public nuisance.

The incident occurred six days before a magnitude 6.0 earthquake struck Mount Kinabalu (pictured) last Friday which left 18 dead.

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.

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

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

Ronny Cham, the lawyer acting for the tourists, said that he had asked for them to be held separately from other prisoners for their own safety because of the level of public outrage.

He told a local newspaper: “People are laying blame on them for offending the mountain. 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.”

Tan Sri Alfred Jabu, deputy first minister of Sarawak state, said the disrespectful tourists deserved to be punished.

He said: “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.”

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