‘It was murder’: Abbott’s shocking MH370 revelation
The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 was deemed a mass-murder suicide by the captain within days of it vanishing but those hunting for the aircraft were not specifically told, former Prime Minister Tony Abbott has sensationally revealed.
Two formal investigations led by Australia and Malaysia were unable to ever come up with a conclusive reason for what happened to MH370, which disappeared on March 8, 2014 with the loss of 239 people including six Australian passengers.
The more than $200 million searches for the aircraft were based on the aircraft's trajectory being from a 'ghost plane', meaning the pilot was also dead at the time of incident and the aircraft flew and course and crashed after running out of fuel. Significantly, Malaysian investigators gave the pilot Captain Zaharie Shah the all clear.
But in an explosive segment of Sky News' MH370 documentary airing on Wednesday, Mr Abbott reveals he was told within a week of its disappearance "by the highest" echelons of the Malaysian government the flight was downed by that captain as murder suicide.
And he now says it that knowledge was not understood by investigators then, a new search was required now.
"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 murder-suicide by the pilot," he told Sky.
"I'm not going to say who said what to whom, but 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 mass murder-suicide by the pilot."
That high source is believed to be the then Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak although Mr Abbott declined to name who told him this information.
He also he did not know what evidence led to that conclusion and he never bothered to ask.
When asked if he had passed that knowledge on to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau conducting an investigation or his then transport minister Warren Truss to help define a search area based on that theory, Mr Abbott was not as clear.
"What I believed was happening, and what I certainly expected to happen, was that the search would cover the maximum possible range of that aircraft. I had no reason to think that the search was being restricted on the basis that the pilot had nothing to do with it."
He said he had a lot to say about the incident at the time but he was focused on finding the plane and not finding fault and no other theory - hijacking or an on-board fire - was ever put to him by government counterparts.
"If it is a fact that the furthest reaches were not explored because of assumptions of a pilot who was no longer at the controls, I would say let's ditch that assumption, let's assume that it was murder/suicide by the pilot and if there is any part of that ocean that could have been reached on that basis that has not yet been explored, let's get out and explore it," he said.
Mr Truss said he could not ever recall being specifically advised about murder-suicide belief but considered it just "a consideration".
"Well it was always considered one of the possibilities and probabilities, that it was a murder/suicide," he told the program.
He added: "I can't recall a particular day when the Malaysians called and said that, but I think everyone had come to that conclusion."
Former chief of the Australian Defence Force Angus Houston brought into co-ordinate the search for the aircraft said Mr Razak never mentioned to him what he believed had happened.
"He didn't, he didn't indicate what he thought had happened and neither did Prime Minister Abbott," he said emphatically.
The then head of the ATSB now retired Martin Dolan also said no-one had passed this suspicion so directly to him.
"No I don't recall ever being told that explicitly by anyone in authority in Malaysia that that was the case. I was kept in touch with the police, the Malaysian police investigation both directly and through the Australian Federal Police, but no one over passed onto me that level of certainty from the Malaysians," he said.