Chhokar murder: Crown wants to retry three men acquitted of killing
Lawyer Aamer Anwar said Surjit Singh Chhokar’s family had been given hope
The Crown is seeking to retry three men who were cleared of murdering an Asian man in Lanarkshire almost 16 years ago.
Surjit Singh Chhokar, 32, was killed in Overtown on 4 November 1998.
Ronnie Coulter, his nephew Andrew Coulter, and David Montgomery were acquitted of murder after two separate trials in 1999 and 2000.
The Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland said the Crown would seek to retry the three men following changes to Scotland’s double jeopardy laws.
Mr Chhokar was stabbed to death outside the home he shared with his girlfriend in Overtown, North Lanarkshire.
The case sparked controversy after two official inquiries made allegations of “institutional racism”.
Following the publication of the reports, then Lord Advocate Colin Boyd QC said the Chhokar family had been failed by the police and prosecution services.
In 2011, changes were made to the double jeopardy law which prevented an accused person from being tried for the same offence twice.
In January 2013, the Crown Office ordered a new investigation into the case.
Prosecutors now say they have new evidence with which to mount a third prosecution.
The Lord Advocate and the Solicitor General met Mr Chhokar’s parents on Friday morning and told them that they want to retry the three men who had been accused of his murder.
In a statement, the Crown Office said: “The Lord Advocate, Frank Mulholland QC, has today applied to the High Court for authority under the Double Jeopardy (Scotland) Act 2011 to set aside the acquittal of Ronnie Coulter, Andrew Coulter and David Montgomery and prosecute them again for the murder of Surjit Singh Chhokar.”
The Chhokar family’s lawyer, Aamer Anwar, said: “Today the family were advised by the Lord Advocate that the Crown will make an application to the appeal court under double jeopardy legislation to bring fresh proceedings for the Chhokar murder against three men,” Mr Anwar said.
“There still remains significant legal hurdles to be overcome.
“The Chhokar family are grateful to the Crown Office and Police Scotland for their determination and support.
“Today is an important step but the Chhokar family will only ever be at peace when there is justice.”