'Rock-Throwing' Baby Accused Of Murder Bid

A baby has appeared in court in Pakistan charged with attempted murder after allegedly throwing rocks at gas workers.

Nine-month-old Mohammad Musa cried as he sat on his grandfather's shoulder in the dock in Lahore.

He could also be seen screaming as he was forced to give his fingerprints.

Police accuse the youngster and other members of his family of attacking officers, bailiffs and gas company staff when they arrived to disconnect supplies of households who had not paid their bills.

One of the team sent to complete the work in the Ahata Thanedaran neighbourhood complained the family beat him up and gave him a head injury.

However, the boy's grandfather, Muhammad Yassen, said: "He does not even know how to pick up his milk bottle properly. How can he stone the police?"

The judge in the case, Rafaqat Ali Qamar, granted Mohammad bail until April 12 and ordered Inspector Kashif Muhammad, who attended the scene and reported it as a case of attempted murder, be suspended.

However, he did not heed calls from the family's legal team to refer the case to the High Court for charges to be dropped.

Defence lawyer Chaudhry Irfan Sadi said: "This case exposes the incompetence of our police force and the way they are operating."

Feisal Naqvi, a supreme court lawyer, said it was common for criminal cases in Pakistan to feature several family members, although it was rare for the very young to be accused.

"What happens is that vendettas are going on, so everyone gets picked up and chucked in jail," he added.

The charge against Mohammad is in contradiction with Pakistan's minimum age of criminal responsibility, which is 12 except for terrorism cases.

Mr Yassen, who fed his grandson milk as he fielded questions from reporters outside court, accused police of fabricating charges in collusion with a rival party who wanted to see them evicted.

"The police and gas company officials came without any notice and started removing gas meters from houses," the 50-year-old labourer said.

"Residents started protesting and blocked the road but ended the protest when senior police officers arrived in the area and assured them that no injustice would be done.

"But later we found out cases have been filed against us."