THE dying father of a Sikh waiter killed more than 16 years ago in Overtown is hoping to live long enough to see a man suspected of the alleged murder go on trial for it again under Scotland's new double jeopardy laws.

Darshan Singh Chhokar, 75, is suffering from terminal bowel cancer that has now spread to other parts of his body.

He has had three major ­operations and chemotherapy, but doctors have told him the treatment has not worked and he is currently ­receiving palliative care.

Ronnie Coulter was one of three suspects cleared of murdering Surjit Singh Chhokar from Lanarkshire in 1998 but now, after a landmark ruling, three senior judges have decided that the acquittal should be set aside.

They said Coulter, 46, could be reprosecuted under new double jeopardy legislation.

On Friday, a panel of judges headed by the Lord Justice Clerk, Lord Carloway, Scotland's second most senior judge, ruled at the High Court in Edinburgh, that two other men, Andrew Coulter, 33, and David Montgomery, 37, cannot face trial for a second time.

Ronnie Coulter was the first suspect to be tried and acquitted in March 1999.

Last night, a friend of the Chhokars told the Sunday Herald of how Surjit's death had left a cruel legacy on the family.

"The last 16 years have taken their physical toll on Mr Chhokar.

"He has had three operations and chemotherapy, but treatment has now stopped and he is on medicine. He is being looked after and made as comfortable as possible.

"Very sadly, Mr Chhokar is terminally ill but he is determined to live long enough to see a new trial."

Chhokar was too unwell to attend Friday's advisory hearing. His wife, Gurdev Kaur Chhokar, was also unable to attend as she was looking after her sick husband.

Surjit Singh Chhokar's sister, Manjit Sangha, 53, joined their lawyer, Aamer Anwar, at the hearing, which lasted about 10 minutes.

Outside court, Anwar, who has represented the family for 16 years, said: "Today's decision is very important, but because proceedings are now live it would be inappropriate to comment any further."

Chhokar, a Sikh from the Indian province of Punjab, was a sergeant-major in the Indian Army, where he witnessed the impoverished plight of his people and their deadly struggle with Pakistan on the Kashmiri border. Both his father and his wife's father had been in the British Army in India, and his wife's father was awarded the Victoria Cross.

He came with his wife and two young children, Manjit and Surjit, to Scotland in the early seventies in the hope of starting a new life.

He found work as a labourer and later opened a shop, which he ran until he retired.

Speaking through an interpreter in 2001, Chhokar said that his family had been destroyed by his son's death.