KUALA LUMPUR: Some allegations made by the Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team (JIT) in its investigations into the 2014 MH17 Malaysian Airlines crash over eastern Ukraine do not seem “quite right”, says Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
He said there was insufficient evidence to blame Russia for the tragedy.
“Yes, we doubt it (the allegation against Russia). But I do not have any relatives that were killed there. 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 during an interview with Moscow-based Sputnik news agency in Vladivostok on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF).
Dr Mahathir said present evidence was insufficient to identify the responsible party and that it was difficult for him to accept that JIT was able to identify who had fired the missile and downed the aircraft.
“I don’t doubt their truth. But, there are certain things that they claim that are difficult to accept,” he said.
Dr Mahathir said although investigators were able to identify the missile and the location it was fired from, it was not easy to identify the party responsible for firing it.
Flight MH17, which was flying 298 passengers and crew members, including 43 Malaysians, was shot down near Hrabove, a village in the eastern part of Ukraine on July 17, 2014.
The aircraft had departed Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam and was on its way to Kuala Lumpur when it was shot down.
The JIT had named four suspects to be charged over the death of the passengers and crew members.
The JIT comprised prosecutors from the Netherlands, Malaysia, Australia, Belgium and Ukraine.
Meanwhile, Bernama reported that Dr Mahathir said Malaysia was wary of spending too much money to replace old Russian Su and MiG fighter planes with newer models, although it has been looking into the possibility of getting new aircraft from Russia.
“We may find that they (jets that are currently used by Malaysia) are too old and maybe not performing as well as the new versions.
“But, on the other hand, money is of great concern to us.
“Spending money on expensive fighter planes is not very productive for us. We are not going to war with anyone,” he said when asked whether Malaysia was interested in replacing the old Russian planes it had with Su-35 or Su-57.
“These are very expensive toys,” the prime minister said of the latest models.
However, he said Malaysia had to keep the level of technology in its defence forces up to date.
Dr Mahathir said Malaysia was studying Russia’s offer to take back the previously delivered MiG fighters and replace them with the new MiG-35.