MH370 - Passengers cleared in investigation

AIMEE GULLIVER IN KUALA LUMPUR
Last updated 20:10 02/04/2014
Reuters

The search for missing Malaysia Airlines jet resumes, as time runs out to locate the black box recorder, without which it may not be possible to explain the plane's disappearance.

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Police are focusing the investigation into missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 on the crew as all passengers are cleared of suspicion, the head of the Malaysian police force says. 

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said all 227 passengers on board the ill-fated jetliner had been cleared in the investigation into the plane’s disappearance. 

“Passengers have been cleared of the four focus areas of probe - personal and psychological problems, sabotage and hijacking," he said. 

Khalid did not discount the possibility that the cause of the aircraft's disappearance may never be known. 

“At the end of the investigations, we may not even know the real cause. We may not even know the reason for this incident.”  

The Boeing 777-200ER disappeared shortly after take-off from Kuala Lumpur on March 8 with 239 people, including the 12 cabin crew, on board. Two New Zealanders, Paul Weeks and Ximin Wang, were passengers. 

After communications systems on board the plane were shut down, it made a sharp turn west, in a move investigators believe was a deliberate act of someone on board. 

Little is known about what happened to it from that point, but on March 24, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced the plane had "ended” in the southern Indian Ocean.  

Police continue to investigate the possibility of hijacking, sabotage and psychological and personal problems with regards to the 12 cabin crew, including the pilot and co-pilot. 

“I do not wish to comment on the background checking of the pilot or cabin crew as they are the subjects of investigations,” Khalid said at a press conference at the Police Officers' College in Kuala Lumpur today. 

He rejected media reports the flight simulator that belonged to pilot Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah had been cleared of any suspicion. 

"It may be cleared on one aspect but we have to look into other areas as well,” he said. 

Last week, Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said the FBI's scrutiny of the data log of the flight simulator showed nothing sinister. 

More than 170 people, including family members and acquaintances of the crew and passengers, had given statements to the police over the plane’s disappearance, with many more expected, Khalid said. 

Police had garnered some clues from the statements recorded, but Khalid refused to divulge further information, saying it could jeopardise ongoing investigations and potential future prosecutions. 

"I'm sorry, there are things we cannot reveal to you; not that I don't want to reveal to you but we cannot do that. 

“Who knows, maybe there will be prosecution later on. So, this will affect the prosecution's case if we start revealing our findings," he said. 

The ongoing criminal investigation was also still awaiting reports from experts both domestically and internationally. 

Investigations on the mechanical aspect or airworthiness of the aircraft were being probed by the Department of Civil Aviation and Malaysia Airlines, Khalid said. 

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The police investigation was so thorough even the four tonnes of mangosteens in the cargo were being examined in depth, he said.


- Fairfax Media

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