No one has spoken to us, says pilot's family

FAMILY and friends of the EgyptAir co-pilot now in the cross-hairs of the crash investigation say that they have yet to be interviewed by US inquiry officials about why he may have abruptly decided to ditch the jet into the sea in an act of suicide and mass murder.

Two sons of Gameel el-Batouty and his closest friend and business partner told the Independent on Sunday that no approach has been made to them by investigators seeking information about what has now become a highly critical question: why - out of the blue - would a civil airline pilot wish to kill himself, and 216 others, including 61 of his countrymen?

Leaks from officials in the US have increasingly centred on the theory that the 59-year-old co-pilot is to blame, diverting public attention from a plethora of other unanswered questions - such as the 767 itself, two previous crashes in the same area, airport security in New York and EgyptAir's decidedly patchy safety record.

According to the theory, the crash was a calculated and cold-blooded act of mass murder, committed by a pilot who carried tens of thousands of passengers back and forth across the Atlantic in a 14-year career with EgyptAir. His motive, and psychological condition, have become essential components of the case.

Yet his friends and family in Cairo say that, although investigators have interviewed some of the co-pilot's EgyptAir colleagues in the United States, they have yet to question those that knew him best in Egypt. Nor have they heard the recording which would help identify his voice, establishing whether he was at the controls.

They include Nabil Ibrahim, 59, a life-long friend with whom Mr el-Batouty was planning to run a small market garden after his retirement, due next March. Mr Ibrahim, an engineer, saw the pilot only two hours before he left for his last trip to the US. He was, he says, "very stable" and not even remotely depressed - as some reports have suggested - or worried about money. The aviator's sons, Kamil, 20, a student at business school, and Mohammed, 22, a police officer, have also confirmed that neither they nor other family members have been quizzed about their father, although they say they would happily co-operate.

Further evidence may eventually surface, but all the motives so far offered up in news reports - from poverty to suicidal depression - have proved highly unconvincing. For example, the Washington Post stated last week that he was "long frustrated that he never made the rank of captain". Even if this was a pretext for mass murder, Mr Ibrahim says that the co- pilot had never raised this issue with him. His friend never anticipated a higher position in EgyptAir, he said, as he was a late starter with the company, having spent much of his previous career as an pilot instructor in the Egyptian Air Institute and the air force.

His cousin - and former EgyptAir colleague - Walid el-Batouty, 33, also never heard the pilot complain about his rank. "The man was about to retire in March. Why - at the end of his career - would he now start wondering why he wasn't a captain?"

Other reports have speculated that he was short of money - although it later transpired that he was a member of a wealthy and established Egyptian family. Last week his family sought to scotch these claims for good by allowing journalists to inspect his three-storey retirement home in a wealthy suburb outside Cairo, complete with luxury new furnishings, many of which the pilot had brought back from trips to the US. He was anticipating a retirement package of $180,000, (pounds 110,000) to add to riches which - according to Mr Ibrahim - he inherited from his father, a former provincial governor.

Nor has there been any evidence in Cairo to support suggestions that he was depressed, although friends concede that he had been concerned about medical treatment for his 10-year-old daughter, Aya, who suffers from lupus. All say he was a happy and sociable man who was looking forward to flying to New York for his 37th wedding anniversary. Nor was there any sign that he suffered from depression in preceding years.

Two years ago, according to his son, Kalim, and Mr Ibrahim he helped save an EgyptAir 767 jet in an emergency landing at Nairobi, after it developed problems in the left engine. Nothing has emerged to explain why Mr el-Batouty - a devout Muslim, a father of five and a healthy, wealthy man - would turn into a mass killer and excommunicate himself from his faith.

"Criminals are innocent until proven guilty," said Walid el-Batouty, "We've been accused, we've been judged, and we're just waiting for the punishment."

Arts and Entertainment
TVShow's twee, safe facade smashed by ice cream melting scandal
News
newsVideo for No campaign was meant to get women voting
News
A photo of Charles Belk being detained by police on Friday 22 August
news
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
Arts and Entertainment
Amis: 'The racial situation in the US is as bad as it’s been since the Civil War'
booksAuthor says he might come back across Atlantic after all
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 200th birthday of Irish writer Sheridan Le Fanu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sustainability Assessor

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Sustainability Assessor...

Year 5 Teacher

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to wo...

Cover Supervisor for School in Bradford

£50 - £70 per day + Mileage and Expenses: Randstad Education Leeds: School Cla...

Supply Teacher - Chelmsford

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: We urgently require Primar...

Day In a Page

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?