A Pakistani judge has thrown out a charge of attempted murder against a nine-month-old baby, in a case that cast a spotlight on Pakistan’s dysfunctional justice system.
Baby Muhammad Musa Khan appeared in court in the city of Lahore, sitting on his grandfather’s lap and drinking from a bottle of milk.
He and his adult relatives were charged this month with attempting to murder a policeman after his family clashed with police and gas company workers trying to collect overdue bills.
Police registered a case against the whole family, alleging they threw rocks at gas company officials carrying out an anti-theft inspection in the low-income Ahata Thanedaran neighbourhood of Lahore on February 1.
The family said the child, who was granted bail, should never have been charged.
“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,” defence lawyer Irfan Sadiq told Reuters.
The baby’s grandfather, Muhammad Yasin, and his three sons still face the charges.
Pictures taken at an earlier court hearing of Musa crying as he was being fingerprinted provoked widespread ridicule.
Critics say Pakistan’s notoriously corrupt police force often trump up false charges either to extract bribes or because they have been paid off.
Provincial officials have been called in for an inquiry and the policeman who charged the child has been suspended.