Isak Rawit sentenced to six months in jail for laser attack on a United flight over Chuuk lagoon

By Bill Jaynes

The Kaselehlie Press

June 5, 2018

Chuuk—Based on his guilty plea that he aimed a laser pointer at an aircraft, Isak Rawit of Chuuk was sentenced to four and a half years in jail.  All but six months of his jail sentence was suspended.  He is to report to jail by 5:00 p.m., on June 13, 2018 to serve out his sentence.

During the suspended portion of his sentence, the court placed Rawit on probation and his laser pointer was confiscated without compensation.

Rawit could have been sentenced to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine for each of the two counts of the crime he was charged with committing.  The government dropped one of the charges.

United Airlines pilots, Captain Kidder and Captain Falsani, reported that at approximately 9:40 PM on October 29 and again at 2:30 AM on October 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.

Through an investigation and questioning, National Police learned that Isak Rawit had been fishing in those waters on that night and that he owns a laser pointer with red and green lights. The laser pointer is similar to military grade laser pointers used to aid in sighting targets. It is not the small type of laser pointer that can be bought at variety stores. The criminal information says that the pointer that was used is six inches long and in addition to the laser beams, also has a flashlight mode. 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 the police that he and five other men were spear fishing in waters off Ruo. He admitted that each time he saw the United Airlines plane pass overhead, he took his laser pointer out of his bucket and shined it at the plane.

Prosecutors said that a United Airlines pilot testified about the dangers of laser pointer attacks on pilots when they are flying saying that an attack is hazardous to the pilots who are charged with the safety of their passengers.

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