Gibson: Let authorities decide if consul’s killing and MH370 are linked

The independent investigator said he was deeply saddened by news of Zahid Raza’s death and was concerned for his own safety. — Picture by Malay Mail
The independent investigator said he was deeply saddened by news of Zahid Raza’s death and was concerned for his own safety. — Picture by Malay Mail

PETALING JAYA, Sept 4 — Speculating on the assassination of Malaysian Honorary Consul to the Republic of Madagascar Houssenaly Zahid Raza and its connection to missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 does nothing to help either investigation, said Blaine Alan Gibson.

The independent investigator told Malay Mail that irresponsible comments could undermine the work done to secure the safe transfer of debris found in the island nation to investigators in Malaysia.

“Let the authorities investigate the tragic death of Zahid Raza, who appeared to have been specifically targeted.

“Hasty assumptions on whether this tragedy was related to his consular capacity, MH370, or other business or personal matters is premature,” he said.

Gibson, whose one-man search for MH370 has produced some of the only physical evidence of the aircraft, expressed relief that debris Zahid Raza was supposed to hand over was safe with the island’s authorities.

Gibson said the discovery of new debris, believed to be from the missing aircraft, had been brought to Zahid Raza’s attention but his death prevented any transfer.

“He had made plans to have the debris transferred by courier to the Malaysian authorities but he was gunned down before he was able to do so.

“All we can do is let the authorities investigate and tell us whether there was any relation at all,” he said.

Gibson said he was deeply saddened by news of Zahid Raza’s death and was concerned for his own safety.

He said he had been the target of a vicious defamation campaign from several parties for a long time.

“He was a personal friend and our thoughts and prayers are with his family. I have, in the past, received death threats apparently meant to deter me from delving deeper into MH370,” he said.

“Obviously it is worrying, but why anyone would want to stop the truth from getting out is beyond me,” he said.

Raza’s tragic death will slow down the collection and transfer of debris.

Separately, the Department of Civil Aviation issued a statement cautioning against irresponsible speculation.

“The matter of his demise is still the subject matter of investigation by the relevant authorities and is inappropriate and irresponsible to speculate in this incident.

“The late consul was of great assistance to the government of Malaysia in facilitating the recovery of possible MH370 debris found in Madagascar,” said the statement.

Zahid Raza was brutally gunned down on August 24 in the streets of the island’s capital Antananarivo, with authorities trying to determine the motive as there were no reports of a robbery.

Wisma Putra had issued a statement asserting he was a respected and prominent businessman amid claims on social media that he was involved with the island’s underworld.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry also expressed its condolences to Zahid Raza’s family.

“Mr Raza was a respected and well-known businessman in Madagascar. On this basis, we appointed him as the Honorary Consul of Malaysia to the Republic of Madagascar in December 2013 for a three-year term.

“Given his outstanding performance in safeguarding and promoting Malaysia’s interests in Madagascar, his contract was renewed for the same post for another term of three years until December 2019,” foreign affairs ministry in a statement said.

Flight MH370 disappeared en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur on March 8, 2014, with all 239 on board believed killed after the aircraft ended its flight in the southern Indian ocean.

Several confirmed pieces of the aircraft have washed up along Madagascar’s coasts but the crash site has yet to be identified.

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