MH17 co-pilot's mum seeks Dr Mahathir's help

Hearts still ache: Noriah in this file photo during the funeral of her son, Malaysia Airlines 1st officer Ahmad Hakimi, at the Muslim cemetery in Putrajaya. After five years, Noriah feels the truth behind the tragedy is still out of reach.
PHOTO: The Star/Asia News Network

PETALING JAYA - With Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in Russia over a variety of issues, a Malaysian mother who lost her son in the downing of MH17 hopes the Prime Minister can help shed more light behind the tragic deaths of 298 people on the flight five years ago.

On July 17,2014, a Malaysia Airlines aircraft was shot down over Donetsk, Ukraine.

Following the incident, an international Joint Investigation Team (JIT) consisting of Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine concluded that MH17 was downed by a BUK anti-aircraft missile fired by pro-Russian separatists in the course of the fight against Ukraine.

In June this year, JIT announced that four individuals - three Russians and one Ukrainian - will be charged for the crime of downing MH17, with the Dutch Public Prosecution Service charging them with murder.

International arrest warrants were issued for Russian nationals Igor Girkin, Sergey Dubinskiy and Oleg Pulatov, and Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko, who are all expected to be tried in absentia on March 9 next year in the District Court of The Hague.

For Noriah Daud, 66, the mother of MH17's co-pilot Ahmad Hakimi Hanapi, the meeting between the leaders was something she hoped will help bring closure to her and the families of other victims.

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"I am very sad that even after five years, it seems to me as if the authorities are still nowhere near the truth as to who is responsible for firing the missile at the plane, " she said when contacted.

Asked what she thought of Dr Mahathir's view that the Russians may not be behind the downing of MH17, Noriah said she had heard similar views.

"I heard of such talk from some people who claim that Russia may not have been involved in shooting down the plane, " she said, conceding that there was dispute over the culpability of the four Russian-backed separatists named as suspects by the Dutch-led investigators.

In his interview with Moscow-based news agency Sputnik, Dr Mahathir said: "I am not doubting their (JIT's) truthfulness.

"But there are certain things that they claim - it is difficult for us to accept... Identifying the missile - yes. The area where it happened - that can be verified.

"But identifying the actual firing, by whom (it was performed), that would be very difficult in the usual circumstances."

The news agency reported Dr Mahathir saying that there was not enough evidence to blame Russia for the shooting of the Malaysia Airlines aircraft.

"Yes, that (Russia's guilt) is our doubt. But I do not have any relatives who were killed there.

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"I do not have any rights to any insurance claims.

"I am seeing this as an observer from the outside, and some of the findings made (by JIT) did not sound to me and many people in Malaysia as being quite right, " he said.

On July 17 this year, Dr Mahathir had expressed his dismay that perpetrators behind MH17's downing have yet to be found after five years.

"We are sad as it was done on purpose but we don't know who launched the rocket, " Dr Mahathir said then.

The Transport Ministry had released a statement on July 17 this year saying that Malaysia will continue to pursue justice for MH17 victims to ensure the perpetrators are held accountable.

"Five years might have passed but our resolve for accountability and justice will not wane, " said the statement.

"The Malaysian government will continue to pursue those who were responsible for this heinous crime and secure justice for the victims, " it continued, adding that Malaysia will continue to work with fellow JIT members and the international community in informing the families of the progress made.