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Charge of attempted murder against 9-month-old boy dropped

Baby accused of throwing rocks at power company reps

A Pakistani judge has dismissed a charge of attempted murder against a nine-month-old boy.

Mohammad Musa's family had kept the boy in hiding after he was accused of trying to kill police officers after a neighbourhood brawl in the eastern city of Lahore. Judge Rafaqat Ali Qamar dropped the case against the boy during a hearing in which police announced they would no longer pursue the charges, defence lawyer Irfan Tarar said.

"The father of toddler produced him before the judge today," defence lawyer Irfan Tarar said. "The boy was in the arms of his father when police submitted a report, stating they have dropped the charge against the boy."

The judge also reprimanded police in court, demanding a written explanation about why officers did not properly investigate the case, Tarar said.

The case stems from an incident Jan. 31, when the power company went into the boy's neighbourhood to disconnect illegal power lines allowing people to get electricity to their homes without paying for it. Such pilferage is common in Pakistan, and attempts to disconnect customers can be met with violence.
   
 Police said in this case, neighbours threw rocks at company officials and their officers. The boy's grandfather told The Associated Press that local women had attacked police with batons after officers mistreated residents.

That prompted police to open an attempted murder investigation into 30 people in the neighbourhood, including the baby's father and his unnamed son, police said this week.

Muhammed's grandfather said police came to his house multiple times looking for the son. He said the family told police that the boy was less than a year old, but officers demanded they take him to court. The boy received bail and cried as he was fingerprinted.

The case highlighted the country's dysfunctional criminal justice system, where even children are not immune. Pakistan's police, widely criticized as improperly trained and ill-equipped, is routinely accused of torturing suspects and extorting people for bribes. Flaws in the country's legal system and poor police investigations often see criminals and terrorists released, while militants routinely target officers in their attacks.

The boy's family is very happy that he's been cleared, according to his lawyer.

"After today's court order, the 9-month boy is free to live anywhere," he said. "This case is an eye opener, and we hope and expect that police will avoid any repeat of such mistakes."

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