London, Feb 19 (IANS) Former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott has claimed that the ill-fated Malaysian MH370 that went missing on March 8, 2014 after taking off from Kuala Lumpur, was downed by a suicidal pilot.
Citing the “highest levels” of the Malaysian government sources, Abbott told Sky News that the authorities thought “from very, very early on” that the MH370 jet was crashed intentionally by its pilot.
“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 a murder suicide by the pilot,” Abbott was quoted as saying.
“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,” he added.
Abbott, who was Prime Minister at the time of tragedy, spoke in detail about his conversations with Malaysian leaders for the first time in a Sky News documentary titled “MH370: The Untold Story,” that was set to be aired on Wednesday.
Najib Razak, prime minister of Malaysia at that time, told online news portal Free Malaysia that they never ruled out the possibility of a murder suicide angle.
“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 was quoted as sayingas saying.
“I must stress that this possible scenario was never ruled out during the search effort and investigations, where no effort was spared,” he added.
Relatives of the 239 passengers, who disappeared with Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, have kept calling for a fresh search to find the aircraft.
The Beijing-bound plane disappeared off the radar about 40 minutes after take-off from Kuala Lumpur when someone had turned off the communication systems and changed the aircraft's route, according to an official report.
The investigation concluded that the plane crashed in a remote area of the southern Indian Ocean, where 232,000 kilometres of the sea bed have since been combed unsuccessfully in search operations.
So far, fragments or suspected fragments of the aircraft have been recovered from beaches in Reunion, Mozambique, Mauritius, South Africa and Pemba Island (Zanzibar).
Malaysia, Australia and China, who carried out the first search at a cost of over $151 million, agreed to suspend it in January 2017 until the appearance of new solid evidence.
The US-based seabed exploration company Ocean Infinity, which conducted a second search which also yielded no result, offered to carry out another under the same no-find no-fee conditions.