Missing MH370: Police rubbishes report on unidentified phone call

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian police said the report by a British tabloid that Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah had received a call from a phone number registered under a dubious identity just before he flew the MH370 plane on March 8 was a mere speculation.

Bukit Aman assistant chief of the Inspector-General of Police secretariat Asst Comm Datin Asmawati Ahmad also denied the claim in the report that the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar, had classified the case of the missing jetliner as an act of terrorism, which also included hijacking and sabotage.

"The Inspector-General of Police has never issued any public statement that categorically placed the MH370 investigation as a part of an act of terrorism.

"Please be advised that the Royal Malaysian Police take no responsibility over the dissemination of such information which originates from unnamed and unverified sources," she said in a statement, referring to a report by the Daily Mail on the phone call.

The report stated that investigators are taking a closer look at the two-minute call which was made using a prepaid SIM card registered under a woman's name but with false identification.

The newspaper also said police had traced the number to a shop selling prepaid SIM cards in Kuala Lumpur, adding that police discovered that it had been bought recently by someone who gave a woman's name using a false identity.

Another British daily, The Sunday Times, reported that the police were also investigating the bank accounts of the 12 crew members, widening its inquiry into the missing plane.

It claimed that the police had seized the bank statements, credit card bills, mortgage documents and other personal financial records of the crew.

Meanwhile, an authorised mobile-phone dealer said it was possible for the authorities to trace if such a call was made to Zaharie.

"They only need to know which telecommunications service provider Captian Zaharie was using to scrutinise his last calls.

"They can then use a system call a Friend Finder to determine when and where the call was made to or received from," he said.

However, he said the information would not include the identity of the caller.

On allegations the caller had used a "pay as you go" pre-paid mobile phone SIM number obtained under a false identity, the dealer said there had been cases where SIM cards were sold without proper registration.

"However, most distributors or agents will insist on proper registration for fear of being punished with heavy fines or losing their licence," he said.