LAHORE - FIDA HUSSNAIN/ Agencies - World’s youngest suspect of attempted murder was acquitted Saturday after police withdrew charges against nine-month-old boy, who although unable to enter a plea gurgled throughout court hearings.
The super ‘baby villain’, Musa Khan was charged two weeks ago as part of a raid on suspected gas thieves involving at least 30 other suspects in Lahore’s Muslim Town.
The baby boy was originally charged with wilful murder attempt, resisting arrest, threatening police and interfering in state affairs. The judge on first hearing granted bail to Musa against bail bonds worth Rs50,000 and directed the accused family to appear again in the court on April 12.
At the initial hearing he seemed blissfully unaware what was going around him as he sucked on a bottle of milk in his grandfather’s lap. There were some gurgles from the baby during the initial arraignment.
The infant, who was apparently unaware that he has made world criminal history as the youngest ever murder suspect, was arrested by police in a move which observers suggest is not the finest hour of country’s justice system.
On Saturday, Lahore’s Muslim Town Police confessed in the court that Musa Khan was mistakenly nominated in the case, though they maintained charges against the other accused. After clearing of baby’s name, the accused family withdrew his bail application.
Quite restless and apparently terrified during the first hearing, Musa looked relatively calm in his grandfather Muhammad Yaseen’s arms during Saturday’s court appearance.
As proceedings started, police surrendered before the court saying that it was a ‘human error’ that Musa was named in the FIR. The police however made another ridiculous statement that the baby-boy registered in the case was another baby, who was only 10 days old, and not the one present in the court. The judge expressed dismay over incompetence of police officers and asked them whosoever the baby was, under which law he was booked in the case.
The judge issued show-cause notice to station house officer of Muslim Town Police and directed Capital City Police Officer to take action against criminal negligence of police officers responsible for this blunder. However, other accused in Musa Khan Case would face the charges of attempted murder.
On Feb 1, police registered the case against baby Musa, other members of his family and a number of his neighbours in Muslim Town neighbourhood after they allegedly attacked a bailiff and a raiding team of the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines (SNGPL) that went there to arrest people involved in gas theft.
Police accused Musa, his father and others of throwing stones at security guards in what others claim was a protest against shortages of electricity in the city. Police say the suspects tried to kill security officers by throwing stones at them. But Musa’s father, Ahmed –also an accused in the case –says the crowd was protesting an electricity shortage.
The country’s justice system has been held up to ridicule after baby, who is still weaning, was arrested and charged. More than anything else, abject embarrassment forced the local police to admit their mistake and drop the very serious charges against the baby after media highlighted this case. The child’s lawyer Irfan Tarar said that the decision was made after an admission that the original charges were invalid because the police had failed to investigate them.