MH370 pilot’s ‘mystery caller’ revealed
A MONTH before Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 vanished over the Indian Ocean - less than an hour into its flight - Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah made a 45-minute phone call that has puzzled investigators for years.
It was later revealed the February 2, 2014 phone call was between the esteemed Malaysia Airlines pilot and his first cousin and aircraft engineer Zulhaimi Bin Wahidin.
Both men had worked for Malaysia Airlines for decades when the Boeing 777 jet with 239 people on board vanished on March 8, 2014 during a routine flight from Kuala Lumpur in the world's greatest aviation mystery.
Speaking to The Australian, Mr Zulhaimi insisted his cousin was innocent and lashed out at suggestions he had provided the pilot with technical information that would've given him the ability to hijack the aircraft.
Mr Zulhaimi was interrogated by police on numerous occasions with investigators initially being suspicious of the aircraft engineer.
"I was at police headquarters for three days. It spanned from morning to evening," Mr Zulhaimi told the publication.
"I told them that Zaharie is a smart guy. He doesn't need me to get all of the information."
Investigators backed off Mr Zulhaimi after he showed them his phone records, revealing he and his cousin spoke regularly over the past 20 years.
MH370 is still missing despite years of investigations.
An official report released in July last year, following a lengthy investigation and a long-running fruitless $144.8 million search, gave no new clues about why the plane disappeared, sparking anger among relatives.
Malaysia's new government, which took power in May last year, has said the search could be resumed but only if new and compelling evidence came to light.
Mr Zulhaimi told the publication "of course" his cousin was innocent and admitted he had spent the past five years feeling "uneasy" about the pilot's "name being tarnished".
Mr Zulhaimi landed on police radar almost immediately after MH370 went missing in 2014 after investigators received data the aircraft engineer had tried to call his cousin after the plane went down.
Experts also called on Mr Zulhaimi to explain the degree of his technical knowledge as part of the investigation, fuelling even more suspicion.
"He was around the neighbourhood, around my area, so he dropped by to see my kids," Mr Zulhaimi said, recalling the last time he had seen his cousin alive.
"Just to say hello. We chitchat for a while, about half an hour or one hour.
"He was a normal, jovial guy. I didn't anticipate that some bad thing was going to happen. It was a big shock to me as well."
Mr Zulhaimi said the past five years has been difficult for the family as they came to terms with the pilot's death.
"The whole family has tried to forget about it," he said. "We just accept the fact that he's dead by now, I think."