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Pak baby charged with murder in hiding

Lahore, April 8 (Reuters): Relatives of a nine-month-old baby charged with attempted murder in Pakistan have taken him into hiding, one said today, in a case that has thrown a spotlight on Pakistan’s dysfunctional criminal justice system.

Baby Musa Khan appeared in court in the city of Lahore last week, charged with attempted murder along with his father and grandfather after a mob protesting against gas cuts and price increases stoned police and gas company workers trying to collect overdue bills.

“Police are vindictive. Now they are trying to settle the issue on personal grounds, that’s why I sent my grandson to Faisalabad for protection,” the baby’s grandfather, Muhammad Yasin, told Reuters, referring to a central Pakistani city.

The baby is on bail and due to appear at the next hearing on April 12 but Yasin said he was not sure if he would take him to court for the case.

“There is immense pressure on me from various corners,” he said.

At his first appearance in court last week, Musa cried while his fingerprints were taken by a court official. Later, the baby sucked on a bottle of milk and tried to grab journalists’ microphones as his grandfather spoke to the media.

“He does not even know how to pick up his milk bottle properly, how can he stone the police?” Yasin asked journalists at the court last Thursday.

The baby was apparently charged because an assistant sub-inspector complained in a crime report that Musa’s whole family beaten him up and injured his head.

The case has once again highlighted dysfunction in Pakistan’s police and justice system.

Poorly trained and underpaid police are frequently accused of corruption and human rights abuses. Many are not even qualified to write a crime report.

Commanders say it is not their fault, pointing out that the this year’s federal budget gave the military about $6 billion and the police a paltry $686 million.

The provincial law minister, Rana Sanaullah Khan, told Reuters that the provincial chief minister had ordered an investigation into the charges against Musa. One policeman had been suspended, he said. “He has directed police authorities to take action against the officials who booked the infant,” he said.

Train bombed

At least 12 passengers were killed and more than 30 wounded on Tuesday when militants bombed a train in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province, hospital sources and officials said.

The blast came a day after Pakistani security forces said they had killed 30 separatist militants in one of the biggest clashes in months in the gas-rich province.

There was no claim of responsibility for the blast and it was not clear if it was related to the fighting. As well as the separatists, Islamist militants operate in Baluchistan, which is on the borders of Iran and Afghanistan.

The bomb went off on the Rawalpindi-bound Jaffar Express in a carriage reserved for men, in the town of Sibi, 120 km southeast of the provincial capital of Quetta.

“Fire engulfed the (carriage) following the blast causing most of the deaths,” said a rescue worker. Railways minister Khawaja Saad Rafique confirmed the death toll.

Government officials did not identify which militant group they believed was responsible.

The low-level separatist insurgency in Baluchistan is one of the chronic security problems undermining stability in nuclear-armed Pakistan.

The separatists accuse the government of stripping the province’s natural resources.

 
 
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