MH370: Pilot’s daughter slams news report

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IOL pic mar27 malaysia plane search window silhouette Reuters Tactical Co-ordinator Imray Cooray sits next to an observation window aboard a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) AP-3C Orion aircraft while searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane over the southern Indian Ocean on March 26, 2014. Picture: Paul Kane

Kuala Lumpur - The daughter of Flight MH370's pilot has accused a British tabloid of “making up” an article in which the paper quoted her saying her father was unstable before the flight, a report said on Monday.

The Daily Mail, whose coverage of the three-week-long missing-plane crisis has been questioned before, said in a report on Sunday that family members described captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53, as “disturbed”.

Authorities are closely investigating the backgrounds of Zaharie and his co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid, 27, over the mysterious disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines flight on March 8 with 239 people aboard. Malaysia says it was deliberately diverted.

But Aishah Zaharie, the captain's daughter, said the Daily Mail report was bogus.

“Dear Daily Mail... You should consider making movies since you are so good at making up stories and scripts out of thin air,” she said in a posting late on Sunday on her Facebook page, according to the news portal Malaysian Insider.

“May God have mercy on your souls. You can bet your ass I will not forgive you,” the 28-year-old added.

AFP could not confirm the comments due to the restricted-access settings on Aishah's Facebook page. She did not immediately respond to an AFP message seeking comment.

The tabloid had said Zaharie was “on the brink” of divorcing his wife of 30 years.

Quoting a “source close to the pilot's family”, it said Zaharie's wife, Faizah Khanum Mustafa Khan, told investigators that he stopped speaking to her in the weeks before the flight and “retreated into a shell”.

Aishah was quoted as saying: “He wasn't the father I knew. He seemed disturbed and lost in a world of his own.”

Malaysian police have questioned the families of Zaharie, co-pilot Fariq and other crew, and seized a flight simulator from the captain's house. No evidence has emerged to implicate anyone.

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim had previously criticised an earlier Daily Mail report that described Zaharie as a fanatical supporter of Anwar.

Just hours before Flight MH370 took off, Anwar was convicted of sodomy - illegal in the Muslim-majority country - in a controversial case that he said was fabricated to ruin his political career. Anwar, who faces five years in jail, is appealing the verdict.

A Facebook tribute page called “Friends of Captain Zaharie MH370” set up by a schoolmate of the captain also expressed outrage at the Daily Mail article.

It had attracted more than 25 000 followers as of midday on Monday.

Zaharie's family has shied away from the media, but his 26-year-old son Ahmad Seth dismissed speculation his father may have intentionally diverted the plane for sinister purposes in an interview with Malaysia's New Straits Times last week.

Other friends and colleagues have also come to the defence of Zaharie, who flew for Malaysia Airlines for 33 years and was a respected senior pilot. - AFP



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