The pilot of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 had a close relationship with a married woman who he exchanged messages with about a "personal matter" two days before the plane took off from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Police have investigated Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah in the past to determine what happened to the plane that disappeared with its 239 passengers shortly after its March 8, 2014 departure.
Zaharie, 53, worked as a pilot with Malaysia Airlines since 1981 and had served as a captain on the 777 for more than 15 years. In July, investigators revealed that he had carried out a flight simulation on his home computer of a route that matches where the missing Boeing 777 is believed to have ended up in the southern Indian Ocean after it went missing.
More recently, The Australian reported Tuesday that Zaharie had a relationship with Fatima Pardi, a 35-year-old mother of three children, in the months before the plane went missing.
"That last conversation was just between me and him. I don’t want to talk about it," she told reporters. "I’m afraid what I say will be misunderstood. It was a personal matter, a private issue."
She said she was not having an affair with Zaharie, but that he had become close with her and her children before his disappearance.
"This is not a lovey-dovey story," she said. "He was a friend of mine. We were friends. He told me he saw potential in me and that he would help me build a better future for myself and my children. Since the incident, I have refused all interviews because I have been afraid that what I say will be misinterpreted, and that it will hurt Captain Zaharie’s family’s feelings. Of course there was gossip, people will always talk whether you’re good or you’re bad. People think I am the ‘other woman’. But we were close because the children loved him. I don’t believe that he loved me. I believe that he loved my children. Whatever my children said ‘We want this, we want that’, he would buy for them. I said to him he should stop doing that because I don’t pamper my children. He would say, ‘She’s just a kid’. So what could I conclude? That he loves children."
She said she does not believe he is responsible for the plane's disappearance.
"If I ever complained that I was tired or too busy at work, he would say, ‘You should not complain because my work is harder than yours. I can’t afford to make any mistakes because one mistake could ruin everything,'" she said.
Zaharie was married with three adult children. His brother-in- law, Asuad Khan Mustafa, told The Australian his marriage saw "storms here and there," but that the couple loved each other.
The Malaysia’s Transport Ministry released a report in March 2015 that said Zaharie was trained to handle stress and had no financial problems.
"There was no known history of apathy, anxiety or irritability. There were no significant changes in his lifestyle, interpersonal conflict or family stresses," the report determined. "There were no behavioral signs of social isolation, change in habits or interest, self-neglect, drug or alcohol abuse of the captain, first officer and cabin crew."
Debris from the plane has been found off the coast of Reunion Island near Madagascar, and in Mauritius, South Africa and Mozambique, but the plane's whereabouts remain unknown.