Australia yesterday brushed off a reported FBI probe into the pilot of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, saying it was a matter for Malaysia and did not shed light on the airplane’s location.
New York Magazine on Friday last week cited a secret FBI document showing the jet’s captain, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, used his elaborate home-built flight simulator to chart a route similar to the one believed taken by the doomed airplane just weeks before it disappeared.
The revelation reignited speculation in the Australian media yesterday that the unsolved mystery could have been a murder-suicide.
“I am aware, as is the government, of the reports about the FBI investigation into the MH370 captain’s home simulator,” Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said in Sydney. “I am unable to comment on them other than to say that it is a matter for the Malaysian investigators when they are considering their final report into this tragedy.”
However, he added: “I just note that even if the simulator information does show that it is possible or very likely that the captain planned this shocking event, it does not tell us the location of the aircraft.”
Australia has been leading the massive search for the Malaysia Airlines airplane, which is believed to have gone down in the southern Indian Ocean after vanishing on March 8, 2014, en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people aboard.
With the designated 120,000km2 search zone almost scoured, Malaysia, China and Australia last week agreed the hunt would be suspended if nothing is found.
Search authorities say satellite data indicated the airplane went down somewhere in that remote and stormy ocean far off Western Australia, with the Malaysian government saying it still does not know what caused the tragedy.
According to a confidential document from Malaysian police investigating the incident obtained by New York Magazine, the FBI recovered deleted data points from the flight simulator on Zaharie’s hard drive.
“We found a flight path, that led to the southern Indian Ocean, among the numerous other flight paths charted on the flight simulator, that could be of interest,” it said, according to the report.
Although the paths are similar, the simulated flight’s endpoint is located about 1,450km from the area where the airplane is believed to have gone down, it said.
At the time of the crash, Zaharie came under scrutiny amid unsubstantiated reports that he was upset over a jail sentence handed to Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim hours before the plane took off, or was suicidal.
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