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Regional News

Chuukese man first to be tried for laser pointer attack on a plane in FSM

CHUUK (Kaselehie Press/Pacnews) — The Federated States of Micronesia’s Department of Justice has charged Isak Rawit of Chuuk for pointing a laser pointer at an aircraft operating within FSM’s jurisdiction.

The FSM Department of Justice is asking for the maximum penalty of five years in prison and $10,000 fine for each offense if he is convicted.

This is the first prosecution for pointing a laser pointer at a plane since the FSM passed a law banning it.

United Airlines pilots, Captain Kidder and Captain Falsani, reported that at approximately 9:40 p.m. on Oct. 29 and again at 2:30 a.m. on Oct. 30, they were attacked by a green laser light during flights. The pilots reported the coordinates of the origin of the laser beam as being in waters off Ruo in Chuuk State.

Four fishermen told national police that they were fishing in those waters at those times and saw a green laser beam shooting from a boat near them.

Through investigation, national police learned that Isak Rawit was fishing in those waters on that night and that he owned a laser pointer with red and green lights.

The laser pointer is similar to military grade laser pointers used to aid in sighting targets. Police investigation report said the laser pointer used was six inches long that had flashlight mode.

In FSM, it is not a crime to own that type of laser pointer, but it is a crime to point it at an aircraft.

Rawit told police that he and five other men were spear fishing in waters off Ruo and admitted that each time he saw the United Airlines plane pass overhead, he took his laser pointer out of his bucket and pointed it at the plane.

Police also interviewed the other men who were fishing with him. They confirmed that they saw Rawit pointing the laser at the aircraft twice.

Rawit voluntarily surrendered the laser pointer device. Charges were filed on Nov. 6. He had his initial appearance before the court on that same day and the court released him on his own recognizance under a list of restrictions on movement and reporting requirements.

Rawit is innocent unless proven otherwise in a court of law.