KUALA LUMPUR: Passengers on board Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 have been cleared of any possible role in the plane’s disappearance, the head of the criminal investigation said Wednesday.
Investigators believe that someone with detailed knowledge of both the Boeing 777-200ER and commercial aviation navigation switched off the plane’s communications systems before diverting it thousands of miles off its scheduled course.
That has turned the focus of investigations onto the two pilots, 53-year-old captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah and his co-pilot, 27-year old Fariq Abdul Hamid.
Khalid Abu Bakar, inspector general of the Royal Malaysian Police Force, was asked at a news conference on Wednesday whether the background of everybody on the flight had been checked.
“As we have said earlier, only the passengers has been cleared. The rest? No,” he replied.
He added that he could not give further details because the case was being treated as a “criminal investigation.”
Fate of MH370 may never be known
Investigators are contemplating defeat in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, with no plane debris found, ocean currents buffeting the search area and the black box’s battery close to running out of power.
Officials raised the possibility on Wednesday that the fate of the Malaysia Airlines plane missing for almost a month may never be determined, even as they said its disappearance is now being treated as a criminal investigation.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was due to arrive in Perth late on Wednesday to inspect the search-and-rescue operations.
He is expected to meet his Australian counterpart Tony Abbott on Thursday amid fresh controversy after it emerged that the final communication transcript from the cockpit was the standard “good night Malaysian 370” rather than the more casual “all right, good night” initially proffered by authorities.
No explanation has been given for the discrepancy, the latest in a string to plague the investigation.