The pilot of doomed Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, one of the greatest aviation mysteries in history, has long been suspected of mass murder and suicide, according to former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
The Boeing plane carrying 239 people from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing disappeared in March 2014, presumably crashing in the southern Indian Ocean. A 2018 safety report by an international team said the plane likely was steered off course deliberately and flown for hours after the plane cut communications.
Abbott, who was the prime minister when the plane vanished, told Sky News this week that high-level Malaysian officials have long suspected pilot Zaharie Ahmad Shah was complicit in downing the jet.
“My very clear understanding, from the very top levels of the Malaysian government, is that from very, very early on they thought it was murder-suicide by the pilot,” Abbott told Sky. He made the remarks as part of the new documentary, “MH370: The Untold Story.”
In cooperation with Malaysia, Australia failed to locate the aircraft during a massive search of the Indian Ocean before it was ended in 2017. A second search by American firm Ocean Infinity also revealed nothing.
“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,” Abbott said in the interview.
Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said that Malaysia never ruled out that the flight was taken down by a suicidal pilot. Najib told Free Malaysia Today that officials considered the claim but didn’t make their views public.
“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 said, according to the online news website. He added that this scenario “was never ruled out” and “no effort was spared.”
Abbott told Sky that he believes a new investigation is warranted.
“Let’s assume that it was murder-suicide by the pilot and if there is any part of that ocean that could have been reached on that basis that has not yet been explored, let’s get out and explore it,” he said.
But in the interview, the former prime minister said he does not believe in some conspiracy theories about Malaysia, which owns Malaysian Airlines.
“I’ve read all these stories that the Malaysians allegedly didn’t want the murder-suicide theory pursued because they were embarrassed about one of their pilots doing this. I have no reason to accept that,” he said.