KUALA LUMPUR - The last words from a Malaysian passenger jet missing for 11 days were spoken by the co-pilot, the airline said on Monday, providing a new glimpse into the crucial period when the plane was deliberately diverted.
Confirmation that the voice was First Officer Fariq Abdul Hamid's came during a press conference at which Malaysian officials hit back at "irresponsible" suggestions that they had misled the public - and passenger's relatives - over what happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
China has led some harsh criticism of the Malaysian authorities, suggesting they withheld important information and were slow to act, hampering the search for the Boeing 777 in its crucial early days.
Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah and his co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid have become a primary focus of the investigation, with one of the key questions being who was in control of the aircraft when it was deliberately taken off course about an hour into its flight to Beijing.
The last message from the cockpit - "All right, good night" - came around the time that two of the plane's crucial signaling systems were manually disabled.
"Initial investigations indicate it was the co-pilot who basically spoke," Malaysia Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya told reporters.
The last signal from the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) was received 12 minutes before the co-pilot's seemingly nonchalant final words.
ACARS transmits key information on a plane's condition.
The plane's transponder - which relays the plane's location - was switched off just two minutes after the voice message.
US intelligence efforts have also focused on the cockpit crew, according to a senior US lawmaker.
"I think this all leads towards the cockpit, with the pilot himself, and co-pilot," said Michael McCaul, chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, citing information he had received in intelligence briefings.