SYDNEY, 19 Feb 2020:
A former Australian prime minister has claimed that “very top levels” of the Malaysian government believed the pilot of missing MH370 flight committed mass murder-suicide.
The Malaysia Airlines plane disappeared on 8 March 2014 with 239 people aboard and has never been found.
“My understanding, my very clear understanding, from the very top levels of the Malaysian government is that from very, very early on here they thought it was murder-suicide by the pilot,” Tony Abbott, who was the prime minister when the incident occurred, said in Sky News documentary “MH370: The Untold Story” aired today.
Abbott did not give names or say whether his Malaysian counterpart at the time, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, believed this hypothesis – but the former Australian leader said he believed the Southeast Asian country’s authorities did not intend to cover up the alleged crime.
“I’m not going to say who said what to whom, but let me reiterate. I want to be absolutely crystal clear: it was understood at the highest levels that this was almost certainly murder-suicide by the pilot — mass murder-suicide by the pilot.”
Considered one of the greatest aviation mysteries of all time, flight MH370 disappeared after leaving Kuala Lumpur for Beijing. What followed was an extensive search operation in the southern Indian Ocean that failed to locate the main fuselage of the aircraft despite searching 232,000 sq km of the seabed.
The official investigation, which was closed in July 2018, established that the aircraft changed course manually — not mechanically or with autopilot — after the communications system was manually shut down, although without evidence to show why.
In the investigation, the authorities considered the possibility of a terrorist act or a suicide by a passenger or crew member, but found no evidence.
This second option is one backed by former Canadian pilot and investigator Larry Vance, who in 2016 concluded the plane was deliberately crashed by pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah, who had a flight simulator at home with a route similar to that made by the aircraft.
The only evidence available so far is 27 pieces of the plane that have been recovered on the beaches of Reunion, Mozambique, Mauritius, South Africa and Pemba island (Zanzibar).
Experts confirmed that three wing fragments found in Reunion, Mauritius and Pemba belong to the missing plane, while seven other pieces — including parts from inside the cockpit — almost certainly do, while eight more are highly likely to be from the aircraft.