World

Pakistani Court Tosses Out Attempted Murder Charge Against Baby

NPR | April 12, 2014 10:33 a.m.

Contributed By:

Bill Chappell

Pakistani toddler Mohammad Musa, seen here sitting in his grandfather Muhammad Yasin's lap at a court hearing in Lahore. A court threw out charges of attempted murder against the toddler Saturday.

Pakistani toddler Mohammad Musa, seen here sitting in his grandfather Muhammad Yasin's lap at a court hearing in Lahore. A court threw out charges of attempted murder against the toddler Saturday.

Arif Ali, AFP/Getty Images

Weeks after he was fingerprinted and appeared in court on an attempted murder charge, baby Mohammad Musa Khan is no longer living under the shadow of a criminal conviction. His case has been termed absurd, ridiculous, and a sign of a justice system in need of reform.

A Pakistani court ruled Saturday that charges against the boy, who was reportedly nine months old when he was charged, will not be pursued. The case began when police met with resistance as they tried to cut off gas service in the neighborhood.

Musa and his family were charged with “planning a murder, threatening police and interfering in state affairs,” the BBC says.

The case sparked widespread disbelief and ridicule, after a video showed Musa in court holding his milk bottle as he sat on his grandfather’s lap. Other images showed him crying as his fingerprints were recorded on paper.

The police inspector in the case has been suspended, reports Agence France-Presse. The agency adds that the charges against Musa “were in direct contradiction with Pakistan’s minimum age of criminal responsibility, which was raised from seven to 12 years in 2013 except in terrorism cases.”

Several of Musa’s relatives remain in legal jeopardy over events that occurred in early February, when residents of their Lahore neighborhood allegedly attacked police.

From The Wall Street Journal:

“It started out as a raid by police on households who weren’t staying their gas bills, in the lower middle class Muslim Town district of Lahore on Feb. 1. The police went into the neighborhood to disconnect defaulters from the piped gas network. Nonpayment of gas and electricity bills is a major challenge for Pakistan, and one of the causes of the country’s energy crisis.”

Members of Musa’s family have said the push to cut off gas service was motivated by a land grab, accusing others of colluding with the police to pressure their area’s residents.

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