Posted on November 19, 2004

Race-Based Murder Conviction, But No Inquiry

Craig Brown, Scotsman (Edinburgh), Nov. 19

Key points

• Kriss Donald murder revealed to have occured after police operation to clamp down on Asian street gangs in Glasgow was stopped

• Operation Gadher was ‘not deemed politically correct’

• Calls for inquiry over potentially fateful decision

Key quote

“I shall be seeking reassurance from the minister as to why [Operation Gadher] was wound up and I would hope the police can reflect on whether this was the right decision or not.” — Margaret Smith, Liberal Democrats’ justice spokeswoman

Story in full THE Scottish Executive has rejected calls for an inquiry into the racially-motivated murder of a 15-year-old boy six months after police abandoned an operation to tackle the problem of Asian street gangs.

Operation Gadher, set up to tackle the growth of Asian gang culture in the South Side of Glasgow, was dropped at the end of last year because it was not deemed politically correct.

In March, Kriss Donald was snatched from the street in Glasgow by a gang, simply because he was white. He was bundled into a car and driven more than 200 miles to Dundee and back to Glasgow before being stabbed 13 times and set on fire while he was still alive.

At the High Court in Glasgow yesterday, Daanish Zahid was found guilty of his abduction and murder.

Despite the awful nature of the crime and the potentially damaging effect it could have had on community relations in the ethnically diverse Pollokshields area, the Executive is refusing to carry out an inquiry into policing there. A spokeswoman said: “We have no plans to conduct such an inquiry. However, how the police conduct the matter is down to them.”

Bill Aitken, a local Tory MSP, urged the Executive to carry out an inquiry and said: “When it comes to justice and police, there must be an even-handedness. We must ask the question, if an Asian teenager had been murdered by a white gang in such a charged atmosphere, what would the Executive’s response have been?”

Margaret Smith, the Liberal Democrats’ justice spokeswoman, said: “I shall be seeking reassurance from the minister as to why [Operation Gadher] was wound up and I would hope the police can reflect on whether this was the right decision or not.”

Norman Brennan, the founder and director of the Victims of Crime Trust, said: “As a police officer of 26 years service, I can safely say that the majority of officers are sick and tired of political correctness. It prevents us from doing our work properly, from the street right up to homicide. I think it’s about time police chiefs stood up and said ‘enough is enough’.

“They should be unshackling officers and letting them do their job.”

Zahid was also found guilty of attacking Kriss’s friend Jamie Wallace, 20, as the pair walked along Kenmure Street in Pollokshields, four hours before the murder, and the jury of eight men and seven women convicted him of attempting to defeat the ends of justice by setting fire to the silver Mercedes used to abduct Kriss.

Lord Philip deferred sentence on Zahid and Zahid Mohammed, 20, who was earlier cleared of the murder but pleaded guilty to other charges, for background reports until 16 December at the High Court in Edinburgh.

Three individuals, who cannot be named for legal reasons, are still wanted by Strathclyde Police in connection with Kriss’s death. Detective Superintendent Elliot McKenzie, the officer in charge of the investigation, said: “The job is only half done.”

The Labour MSP Gordon Jackson said the case should not be used to fuel unfounded speculation about gang warfare in Glasgow. “The level of violence in this case was a one-off and had nothing to do with gang warfare,” he said.

Commenting on the withdrawal of Operation Gadher, Mr Jackson said: “I am not aware of that operation.”

Mohammed Sarwar, the Labour MP for Glasgow Govan, said: “I would like to pay tribute to Kriss Donald’s mother, his family and friends who behaved in a very dignified and honourable way in this very difficult time for the family.

“It was made more difficult for them as they had to listen to the appalling evidence in the court and they appealed for calm in the community.

We will not leave any stone unturned to bring other suspects to trial and to justice.”

Robina Qureshi, the director of Positive Action in Housing, an anti-racist charity, said:

“We won’t let extremists divide Pollokshields, which is an example of how cultures can live side by side in Scotland.”

A Glasgow City Council spokesman said: “The city council is committed to equality in all aspects of life and a great deal of work is being done in communities across the city to break down barriers and encourage co-operation and friendship.”