Missing MH370: Police visit homes of pilot and co-pilot

SHAH ALAM - Police yesterday paid a visit to the house of pilot Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah and co-pilot First Officer Fariq Abdul Hamid here yesterday.

Three plainclothes policemen arrived at the guard house of Zaharie's gated-community housing area in Laman Seri, Seksyen 13, at 2.42pm in an unmarked, white multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) soon after Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had ended a press conference in Putrajaya on flight MH370.

The policemen introduced themselves as officers from the Bukit Aman police headquarters to the security guards.

One of the policemen was seen displaying an identification card before obtaining a pass to enter the gated community.

Two police officers in a patrol car followed.

However, the patrol car left after about 10 minutes while the MPV was spotted inside the house compound for two hours and left at 4.46pm. Reporters were forbidden from entering the neighbourhood.

About 8.07pm, the same MPV arrived at Fariq's house in Seksyen 7. More than 10 police officers entered the house and left just past 9pm.

They were seen carrying two brown bags but declined to respond to questions by reporters.

Two men, believed to be Fariq's father and brother, were also seen getting into a police vehicle.

Hours earlier, two of Fariq's brothers were seen at the house. Ignoring reporters' questions, they entered the house for a few minutes before leaving.

Malaysia Airlines hunts for missing plane

They were seen carrying blue plastic bags. Further details of their visits could not be ascertained.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar, when asked for details, replied via a text message: "Nanti tunggu PC" (Wait for the press conference). Police are expected to hold one today.

Najib, at yesterday's press conference, said the authorities were investigating all angles and individuals, including the crew members and passengers of the missing Boeing 777-200ER.

A source familiar with the investigation told the New Sunday Times that background checks on Zaharie, 52, revealed that he had a wife and three grown-up children.

"Checks had cleared him of any involvement with terrorist or extremist groups," said the source.

It was learnt that Zaharie's second child, who is 27 years old, is working in Melbourne, Australia. His youngest son is 26, while details of the eldest son could not be obtained at press time.

Zaharie's colleagues and friends had described him as a "superb pilot" and "very professional".

He had served Malaysia Airlines for 33 years, clocking 18,360 flying hours in the process.

The seasoned pilot is qualified to supervise pilot training and operations of MAS' Boeing 737 narrowbody jets.

Zaharie is also certified by the Department of Civil Aviation as an examiner, which allows him to conduct simulator tests for pilots.

Malaysia Airlines hunts for missing plane

His passion for flying also led him to build a Boeing 777 flight simulator in his two-storey home, using computer parts and complex software.

The source said police were also looking into his co-pilot, Fariq, who was said to have led a lavish lifestyle and had a penchant for luxury high-performance cars.

Fariq, said the source, had allegedly sold off his Audi Quattro recently.

He joined MAS in 2007 and had accumulated 2,763 flying hours.

Although substantially less experienced, Fariq appeared on a CNN travel segment with the network's correspondent, Richard Quest, in February, where he demonstrated flying a Boeing 777-200 from Hong Kong to Kuala Lumpur.

The CNN report quoted Quest as calling Fariq's technique "textbook-perfect".

The young pilot was exposed to scrutiny over the last week after photos appeared online of him and an unidentified colleague with two female tourists in the cockpit during a flight from Thailand to Malaysia in 2011.

MAS has since reiterated that company policy disallows passengers from entering the plane's cockpit during an international flight, and said it had opened up an investigation into the matter.

However, those close to Fariq spoke highly of him, with the imam of his local mosque, Ahmad Sharafi Ali Asrah, labelling him a "good boy", who regularly visited the mosque and attended Islamic courses.

The authorities have been closely studying the backgrounds of all passengers and crew aboard the ill-fated jetliner for further clues on what could have transpired before the aircraft went missing.

A Malay daily reported that the Malaysian police had taken an interest in one of the passengers, said to be an electrical and electronics engineer of Uighur descent. It was later denied by Bukit Aman.

Malaysia Airlines hunts for missing plane