KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 20): The Malaysian authorities did examine the possibility of a criminal plot behind the disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, said the then prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, but did not make the suspicions public as the plane’s recorders had not been found.

The authorities had also focused their probe into the political affiliations of MH370 pilot, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, Free Malaysia Today reported, quoting Najib.

“It would have been deemed unfair and legally irresponsible since the black boxes and cockpit voice recorders had not been found and hence, there was no conclusive proof whether the pilot was solely or jointly responsible,” Najib reportedly told the news portal.

The former premier was responding to a comment by Tony Abbott, who was Australia’s prime minister at the time, that Malaysia’s top leadership considered from the outset the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in 2014 a mass murder-suicide by the pilot.

“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 a murder-suicide by the pilot,” Abbott said in a clip from a documentary due to air yesterday on Sky News.

Abbott declined to name any individuals to support his claim, Bloomberg reported.

MH370 vanished on March 8, 2014, on its way to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur with 239 people on board.

Satellite data showed the jet abandoned its normal route shortly into the flight, crossed Malaysia and then cruised south over the Indian Ocean to its end. Underwater searches failed to locate the wreckage.

Official inquiries into the tragedy failed to offer a technical explanation for the plane’s disappearance, or explicitly blame the pilot.

The Malaysian government’s 2018 report into the disaster said the aircraft’s systems were probably manipulated and investigators could not rule out “intervention by a third party”.

Australian officials said Zaharie’s flight simulator at home showed a course had been plotted to the southern Indian Ocean.

At the same time, satellite data suggested the doomed plane was on autopilot as it flew south, the investigators said.

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on Feb 20, 2020.

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