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

By Bill Jaynes
The Kaselehlie Press
November 6, 2017
Chuuk, FSM—The FSM Department of Justice filed charges against Isak Rawit for the crime of pointing a laser pointer at an aircraft operating within the FSM’s jurisdiction. The FSM 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 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.
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 but they couldn’t see who was on the boat due to the darkness and the distance.
Through an investigation and questioning, National Police learned that Isak Rawit was 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.
According to the criminal information from the investigating officer that was filed with the charges, Rawit was brought in for questioning. While there, Rawit signed a waiver form agreeing to answer the investigators’ questions.
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.
Police also interviewed the other men who were fishing with him. All said that they witnessed Rawit pointing the laser at the aircraft twice.
Rawit voluntarily surrendered the laser pointer device. Charges were filed on November 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.