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Pakistan

Murder charge against Pakistani baby dropped

A nine-month old boy from the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore, who had been charged with attempted murder, has been freed. The case drew widespread outrage and ridicule.

A judge in Lahore freed Mohammad Musa on Saturday after all charges against the nine-month-old baby had been dropped. The court also launched a separate case to look into how police pressed charges against the boy.

"Police told the court that the nomination of Musa in the case of attacking police and gas company officials was a human error and Musa is not required," defense lawyer Irfan Sadiq told the Reuters news agency. The baby's grandfather, Muhammad Yasin, and his three sons still face the charges.

The baby had been in court last Friday as part of an investigation relating to an incident where residents in his neighborhood clashed with police back in January. Police and energy officials went to the working-class area to disconnect residents they claimed pilfered gas and electricity.

The ensuing violence triggered an investigation into attempted murder involving 30 people from the neighborhood, including the baby's father and an unnamed son.

The case drew international attention and sparked ridicule against the Pakistani criminal justice system, especially after the boy was photographed crying desperately while being fingerprinted in court. His grandfather was later seen trying to comfort him with a milk bottle.

The minimum age of criminal responsibility in Pakistan is 12 except in cases of terrorism.

ng/msh (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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