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Wednesday, 24 October, 2001, 09:33 GMT 10:33 UK
Chhokar killing reports handed over
Chhokar graphic
Two reports into the way an Asian man's death was handled by officials have been handed over to his family.

The findings of two inquiries were given to the family of murdered waiter Surjit Singh Chhokar at the Scottish Parliament ahead of their official publication.

The findings were expected to criticise the Crown Office and Strathclyde Police after a failure to secure a murder conviction on two occasions.

Mr Chhokar was murdered in November 1998 outside his girlfriend's home in Overtown, Lanarkshire.

Surjit Chhokar's father Darshan
Darshan Chhokar arriving at the Scottish Parliament

Three men were charged with the murder of the 32-year-old waiter - but all three were acquitted after two separate trials.

Ronnie Coulter, 32, from Wishaw, walked free from the first murder trial in 1999 after he blamed his cousin, 23-year-old Andrew Coulter, and David Montgomery, 19, from Motherwell, for the killing.

Andrew Coulter and Mr Montgomery then stood trial last November. They claimed Ronnie Coulter was responsible and were also acquitted of murder.

The Chhokar family travelled to the Scottish Parliament to take receipt of the two reports.

The family arrived at the parliament offices in an ambulance because Surjit Chhokar's father, Darshan, uses a wheelchair.

As they went into the building the family's spokesman Aamer Anwar said: "For over 400 years a second class system of justice has been delivered to the poor people and the black people of this country.

"We demand that no other family should have to start a campaign to fight for justice and equality."

Press leak

After the second trial the Lord Advocate, Colin Boyd, commissioned reports by solicitor Dr Raj Jandoo and Sir Anthony Campbell, Justice of the Supreme Court of Northern Ireland.

Sir Anthony was tasked to look at the prosecution of the murder case, while Dr Jandoo was to consider how the family were treated.

We demand that no other family should have to start a campaign to fight for justice and equality

Aamer Anwar

It is thought that the Crown Office will be severely criticised for bungling the case and that Strathclyde Police will face criticism for how they treated the family.

And it is expected that both organisations will probably face charges of institutional racism.

Mr Anwar may also be criticised for how he led the Chhokar Family Justice Campaign.

The case ran into further controversy this weekend after details of the reports' findings were apparently leaked to Sunday newspapers.

The Chhokar family wrote to Mr McLeish calling for an inquiry into the leak.

He said that he shared the family's concerns and promised an investigation into the circumstances.

He also assured them that no government minister was behind the passing on of details of the reports to the media.

See also:

23 Oct 01 | Scotland
Probe into Chhokar report leaks
31 May 01 | Scotland
Chhokar witness fails in appeal
08 Feb 01 | Scotland
Chhokar trial pair sent to jail
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