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COPFS announces Double Jeopardy murder investigation

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) has announced that Strathclyde Police are to carry out a further investigation into the murder of Surjit Singh Chhokar, who was killed in 1998. The investigation is to be carried out under Double Jeopardy legislation introduced in November last year.

Other cases are currently under review by the Solicitor General which may be able to be prosecuted anew under the Double Jeopardy Act. The Crown is actively reviewing and examining potential cases as part of a programme under the new legislation.

Double Jeopardy cases will be handled by the Cold Case Unit, part of the COPFS Serious and Organised Crime Division.

The Double Jeopardy (Scotland) Act 2011 came into force in Scotland on 28th November 2011. Under the Act there are five new conditions where an accused can be retried for a crime they were previously acquitted of:

– where there is a tainted acquittal e.g. interference with, or intimidation of, a juror or witness;
– a new or previously undiscovered confession;
– where new evidence comes to light in cases that were initially tried in the High Court;
– where the prior proceedings are legally null;
– or where an injured person subsequently dies.

The High Court must grant the authority for any fresh prosecution under the Act.