• STV
  • MySTV

Police reopen murder inquiry into death of Surjit Singh Chhokar

The development in the murder inquiry came after family of the waiter met with the Lord Advocate.

Surjit Singh Chhokar: No conviction for the killing.

One of Scotland's highest profile murder inquiries is to be reopened following new laws on "double jeopardy".

Strathclyde police are to begin investigating the death of Surjit Singh Chhokar - more than a decade after the killing which led to accusations of "institutional racism".

Mr Chhokar was stabbed to death outside the home he shared with his girlfriend in Overtown, Lanarkshire, on November 4, 1998.

Despite the arrests of three men and two subsequent trials no conviction was ever secured.

On Thursday, after the victim's family met Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland, it was confirmed that Strathclyde Police will reopen the murder inquiry into the death.

Speaking after the meeting at the Crown Office in Edinburgh, the family's solicitor said there are "significant hurdles to cross".

Aamer Anwar, speaking on behalf of the Chhokar family, said: "Thirteen years ago as Surjit's family began their struggle for justice, every step required their sacrifice and suffering.

"Surjit was described as Scotland's Stephen Lawrence, so when two of Stephen's killers finally faced justice because of the double jeopardy law, the Chhokar family dared to hope that that justice was still possible for Surjit.

"The Lord Advocate and Solicitor General have taken important steps today, but there are significant hurdles to cross. The family believe there is a determination to fight for justice."

He added: "Today is a second chance for the Crown Office to do the right thing but also to show there has been a positive change 13 years later.

"Surjit's family will only ever be at peace when there is justice. It is now up to the Lord Advocate and Strathclyde Police to do all that is possible."

Double jeopardy

The Solicitor General Lesley Thomoson said on Thursday: "The prosecution service is committed to make use of the powers under the new double jeopardy legislation.

"The Scottish Parliament, in passing the Act, has clearly stated that the passage of time since an acquittal should be no protection for those for whom there is new and compelling evidence of guilt.

"We hope that our commitment to the new legislation will give reassurance to victims and their families."

Last week, Mr Chhokar's sister, Manjit Sangha, told a press conference at the Scottish Parliament of her hopes the change in the law would mean that the murder investigation could be reopened.

She said: "People will have forgotten Surjit's name, yet the darkness of his murder still shadows our lives. All that we have ever asked for is justice. The recent changes in the law once again gave us hope."

Apology

Two official inquiries were ordered in the wake of the original proceedings.

Following the publication of the reports in 2001, Colin Boyd QC, who was Lord Advocate at the time, said the Chhokar family had been failed by the police and prosecution services.

The Crown Office also confirmed other cases are under review by the Solicitor General which may be able to be prosecuted under double jeopardy legislation.

It said it was "actively reviewing and examining potential cases as part of a programme under the new legislation".

The Double Jeopardy Act came into force on November 28, setting out five new conditions where an accused could be retried for a crime they were previously acquitted of.

These include if evidence later emerges that an acquitted person has admitted to committing the offence, or where the original acquittal was "tainted", possibly by witness or juror intimidation.

Under the legislation, a retrial could occur if "compelling new evidence" emerges in cases initially tried in the High Court or where prior proceedings were legally null.

The prosecution of a person on a more serious charge if the victim has died after the original trial is also included in the measures.

'Search for answers'

Humza Yousaf, the SNP MSP for Glasgow, said: "I welcome today's announcement from the Crown Office, it is a big step in the fight for justice for Mr Chhokar and his family.

"I have no doubt that Strathclyde Police will work tirelessly on the investigation. However, we need members of the public to do their bit in aid of the investigation. If you have any information you think may be useful, regardless of how insignificant it may seem, please do contact Strathclyde Police who can deal with people on a confidential basis.

"For 13 years the Chhokar family has been searching for answers and every time they have left disappointed and despondent. By opening up an investigation into the murder I am hopeful that justice for Surjit Singh Chhokar and his family is closer than it has ever been before."

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check. That e-mail's already in our system. Please try again.
ShowHide
Forgot password?
This field is required. This must be at least 6 characters long. Did you enter your details correctly?
If you've forgotten your details then use the 'Forgot password?' link.
Need to reset your password?

We'll send a link to reset your password to

We've sent you details on how to reset your password

Please check your email and follow the instructions.

Forgotten your email address?

Have you forgotten the email address that you previously joined with? Don't worry, by emailing enquiries@stv.tv we can help.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This must be at least 6 characters long.
ShowHide
This field is required. This must be at least 6 characters long.
You must be over 16 to join STV.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date
We need this to check that you live in an STV region.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid postcode
Would you like us to email you about our great shows and services from time to time?
We'll only send emails we think you'll like (see example) based on information you have supplied and shows you have watched on STV Player. For details on emails and advertising, see our STV & You page.
Would you like to receive emails from the Scottish Children's Lottery about draws, instant games and competitions?
We support the Scottish Children's Lottery (SCL), which is managed by our colleagues at STV ELM Ltd. You can find out more about the SCL on its website, including its Privacy Policy.

By continuing you agree to our Terms of Use, and understand our Privacy and Cookie Policies.

Upload Profile Picture

Please make sure your image is under 2mb in size and a valid JPG, PNG or GIF.

Are you sure?

Unfortunately, you'll be unable to access our premium content. We’ll be sorry to see you go, but if you change your mind you can rejoin us at any time.

Please verify your STV account

Please verify your STV account using the email we sent you. If you have lost the email, we can send you another one, just click the button below.

Thanks

We've sent you a new verification email.
Please check your email and follow the instructions to verify your account.

Welcome to STV
Thanks for joining us.

Oops!

Sorry, you must be at least 12 years old to place a vote for your Real Hero.

Please review our Voting Terms of Use for more information.

Oops!

Sorry! It seems that you are using a browser that is incompatible with our voting service.

To register your vote please copy the below URL in to your regular mobile browser. We recommend Google Chrome, or Safari.

http://shows.stv.tv/real-heroes/voting

Oops!

Sorry, you seem to have already voted in this category.

Thanks for voting

Now share your vote with friends on your social network

Share on twitter Share on facebook

Cast your vote

Please register or sign in to continue.

Cast your vote

This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date

Cast your vote

Please fill out this form to cast your vote. As you are under 16 years old you will not create an STV account. Why do we need these details?

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check.
Location This field is required.
Parental Consent This field is required.

That's you. All that's left is to click the 'Submit Vote' button below. By doing so, you confirm that you and your parent or guardian have read and accept our Voting Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Cookie policy, and that the details you have entered are correct. We'll look after them as carefully as if they were our own.