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Australia: Student faces possible life imprisonment

A 26-year-old student faces possible life imprisonment on a charge of “prejudicing the operation of an aircraft” by shining a green laser pen at a Quantas aircraft as it neared Adelaide. Irfan Bozan was also charged with “acts to endanger life” and “carrying an offensive weapon”.

Irfan Bozan, a student from Turkey, pointed the laser at aircraft and passing cars.

"The laser I used in the army and the laser I used now – there is a not a lot of similarities between them," Bozan told the court via an interpreter. "They are two different things." Bozan is charged with endangering life, prejudicing the safe operation of an aircraft and carrying an offensive weapon.

Last week, he allegedly shone a hand-held pen laser at pedestrians, cars and a Qantas plane which was flying at 7000ft on approach to Adelaide Airport.

John Mattner, for Bozan, told the court his client believed the laser was a toy and "did not believe the laser pointer would actually reach 7000 feet. [See this webpage for more information on how far laser pointers of various powers can reach.] A laser pointer was used but it was not done to intentionally harm or interfere with anyone," Mr Mattner said. "It is conceded that its use could be seen as reckless."

From ABC (Australian Broadcasting Company) News

UPDATE #1: At an August 19 2009 court hearing, Bozan told the court that when he was a soldier in Turkey, he was trained in the use of lasers on weapons. He said the lasers he used during his compulsory 15-month term with the Turkish army were much more powerful. Update #1 information from Adelaide Now.

UPDATE #2: In February 2010, Bozan was given a 14-month suspended sentence and faced a possible loss of his Australian visa. He had already spent nine weeks in Australian prison after his arrest. The judge noted Bozan’s Turkish Army experience with lasers and said, "You knew of their ability to travel long distances, aiming at specific targets. The consequences could have been disastrous. Your offending is serious and should be considered in the context of the potential large scale harm that you could have easily caused." Update #2 information from Adelaide Now