A Pakistani baby has been charged with attempted murder after officials say he was throwing rocks at gas company officials in "an attempt to stone them." The infant, who is still drinking from a bottle, was hauled into legal proceedings with his family to face the incredulous charges.
Says a report from the AFP today, as carried by Yahoo! News: “While many children his age are still learning how to crawl, a nine-month-old boy in Pakistan has been accused of attempted murder in a case observers say highlights endemic flaws in the country's legal system.”
The incident occurred in early February, when Pakistani police and gas company employees came into a working class neighborhood, without notice, to remove gas meters and cut gas supply to homes that had not paid their bills.
Baby Mohammad Musa, along with his family and thirty others, were accused of attacking police officers and tossing rocks at them while the utility employees removed the gas meters. Musa was forced to appear in court to stand accused of his crimes. The infant was fingerprinted, granted bail, and news outlets even say that Pakistani court officials attempted to obtain a “statement” from the indicted toddler.
Musa was brought to court, crying, by his 50-year-old grandfather Muhammad Yasin, who held him on his shoulder. Yasin says that Musa can barely hold his bottle up, let alone pick up a rock and throw it with intent to injure an adult.
Yasin later spoke to reporters.
“Everyone in the court was saying ‘How can such a small child be implicated in any case’? What kind of police do we have?” asked Yasin.
How young it too young to be arrested? According to the AFP, the charges against Musa are “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.”
Police say a number of men were injured in the kerfuffle, some severely, when Musa's father and one Musa's older teenage brothers started tossing rocks and bricks. But the family disputes those charges, and says they were simply protecting their land and homes. Yasin said the "overdue" gas bills were a complete fabrication.
The family's lawyer, Irfan Tarar, said: "The police filed a wrong, false arrest charge sheet and brought this innocent 9-month old into this court room for an appearance."
CNN has since reported: "Following media coverage of the incident, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif directed police to immediately suspend a Pakistani official for registering the case against the baby boy, according to police."
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