Malaysia says MH370 report to be released after latest search ends

A man lights candles during the fourth annual remembrance event for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in Kuala Lumpur on March 3. The release of a full report into MH370’s disappearance has been suspended pending the outcome of the new search. (Reuters)
Updated 08 March 2018
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Malaysia says MH370 report to be released after latest search ends

KUALA LUMPUR: The full investigation report into the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 will be released after the latest search efforts are completed, officials said on Thursday, four years after the aircraft first went missing.
Flight MH370, carrying 239 people onboard, became one of the world’s greatest aviation mysteries when it disappeared on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014.
Malaysia agreed in January to pay US firm Ocean Infinity up to $70 million if it found the plane during an offshore search effort that is underway and expected to end in June.
The decision to engage the firm came after Australia, China and Malaysia ended a fruitless A$200-million ($159.38 million) search across a 120,000 square-kilometer area in the Indian Ocean last year, despite investigators calling for the target area to be extended 25,000 square kilometers north.
The release of a full report into MH370’s disappearance has been suspended pending the outcome of the new search, as any new evidence uncovered is “likely to significantly affect the investigation,” Malaysian investigators said in their annual interim statement sent to families of those aboard the plane.
“In the event that the aircraft is found, the team will conduct further investigation,” said the statement seen by Reuters and due to be released publicly later on Thursday.
“If the aircraft is not found and a decision is made to discontinue the search, the team will resume the completion of the report and release it in the months ahead.”
Several pieces of aircraft debris have been found on Indian Ocean islands and along Africa’s east coast, and efforts to retrieve more are ongoing.
Three wing fragments were confirmed as coming from the missing plane, while other pieces, including some cabin interior items, were determined to be “almost certain” from MH370, the investigators said.
Malaysian officials are working with Australian authorities on plans to recover the Boeing Co. 777’s wreckage or its flight recorders, in the event the aircraft is found.
Prime Minister Najib Razak reiterated the country’s commitment to finding the plane.
“We are pushing the global aviation community to take measures to make our skies safer,” he said on his official Twitter account on Thursday.
The Seabed Constructor vessel has covered 16,000 square kilometers so far but has yet to identify any significant findings, Ocean Infinity said in its weekly search update on Tuesday.


US charges against Russian Butina ‘unfounded’

Updated 35 min 10 sec ago
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US charges against Russian Butina ‘unfounded’

  • The Russian foreign minster said he had “reasons to believe” Butina had been kept in conditions designed to break her will and lead her to enter a false guilty plea
  • Butina pleaded guilty to conspiracy to not register as an agent of a foreign government, a charge often used against foreign spies

MOSCOW: The Kremlin on Friday rejected as unfounded the US case against Russian national Maria Butina, who has pleaded guilty to acting as an illegal foreign agent in the United States.
“We consider the accusations against her as absolutely unfounded,” presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he had “reasons to believe” the Russian had been kept in conditions designed to break her will and lead her to enter a false guilty plea.
“As far as I understand, this plea bargain — the likes of which are common in the US — is part of a deal to get free and return home as soon as possible,” Lavrov said in comments reported by agencies.
Butina — the first Russian convicted in the sprawl of cases arising from Moscow’s interference in the 2016 presidential election — faces likely deportation after a potential sentence.
Prosecutors said she launched a plan in 2015 to develop ties with the Republican Party with the aim of influencing US foreign policy.
The plot was allegedly guided and financed in part by Alexander Torshin, an ally of President Vladimir Putin who was deputy governor of the Russian central bank until his retirement on November 30.
Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier in the week said he had asked Russian security services who Butina was.
“Nobody had heard anything about her. The only thing was that she did some work in the upper house of parliament for a while,” Putin said.
Butina was arrested in July this year and became a minor cause celebre in Russia, with the foreign ministry putting her picture at the top of their Twitter account with the hashtag “#FreeMariaButina.”
She pleaded guilty to conspiracy to not register as an agent of a foreign government, a charge often used against foreign spies. But there was no evidence presented that she worked for any of Moscow’s espionage agencies.
The conspiracy charge, and prosecutors’ vouching for her cooperation in a broader investigation, suggested others could be charged in relation to her case.
She is due to remain in US custody until her sentencing in February or later.