Malaysia

Did pilot hijack MH370 as political protest against Anwar’s latest jail term?

Datuk Anwar Ibrahim at the Court of Appeal on March 7, 2014, when he was senteced to five years' jail for sodomising his former aide. According to a British paper, missing flight MH370 Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah was an Anwar supporter.  – The Malaysian Insider file pic, March 16, 2014.Datuk Anwar Ibrahim at the Court of Appeal on March 7, 2014, when he was senteced to five years' jail for sodomising his former aide. According to a British paper, missing flight MH370 Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah was an Anwar supporter. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, March 16, 2014.With the authorities settling on what amounts to air piracy, the Daily Mail is reporting a theory that the pilot of MH370 may have hijacked the plane as a political protest against Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's latest sodomy conviction.

The British tabloid revealed that hours before he took command of the Boeing 777-200ER (9M-MRO) bound for Beijing last Saturday, Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah had gone to court on March 7 for the trial and sentencing of Anwar in the sodomy case.

The opposition leader was jailed for five years by the Court of Appeal which had overturned his High Court acquittal for sodomising a former aide in 2008.

The newspaper said police sources confirmed that the 53-year-old captain was a vocal political activist, and were probing into the probability that he would have been profoundly upset by the court ruling.

Yesterday, police searched the veteran pilot's home in Shah Alam, where he keeps a home-made flight simulator.

The Daily Mail added, however, that investigators had already spent much of last week examining two laptops removed from Zaharie’s home, where one of it is believed to contain data from the simulator.

The report also said despite a series of denials by officials that Zaharie's home was searched, two laptops were taken from his home during low-key visits by police early last week.

His personal laptop was not found, however, and thought to be with him in the cockpit, the Daily Mail reported.

According to Zaharie's co-workers, he was a social activist with fervent support for Anwar and with strong political beliefs, with one colleague saying that the veteran pilot was obsessed with politics.

Zaharie was flying the MH370 alongside co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid, from whom investigators have been keen to deflect suspicion, the Daily Mail reported.

Investigators told the British newspaper that they were looking into the theory that Zaharie's political views may have been a factor to consider in the controversy surrounding the missing plane with 239 people onboard.

“There are huge sensitivities surrounding this but we cannot afford not to pursue any angle brought to our attention," Daily Mail reported, quoting investigators.

Zaharie is believed to be separated or divorced from his wife although they share the same house, the report said.

The report further stated that the raid on Zaharie's home appeared to be “stage-managed” as a display of intent after  Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said at a specially called press conference yesterday that the focus of the investigation was now on “crew and passengers” as a result of the latest leads.

Stopping short of calling it a hijacking, Najib said yesterday that flight MH370's unusual deviation westwards was “consistent with deliberate action by someone on the plane”.

Western media outlets have quoted American intelligence officials as saying that the jet was flown by an expert after it vanished from radar screens early March 8, 2014, while en route to Beijing.

This has led investigators to vet through all 239 passengers and crew members of the carrier in the hopes of finding facts to counter such attacks.

The Daily Mail report also said that the fact that jet climbed to 13,700m, which is above the service limit, could have been a deliberate attempt to knock out the passengers and crew. – March 16, 2014.

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