Jessica Kerr, Delta, B.C. (Delta Optimist) – A man who was cleared* of charges in connection with the murder of a teacher whose body was found in South Delta is now suing the RCMP.
Sukhvinder Singh Panghali was arrested and charged with being an accessory after the fact to the murder and of indecently interfering with a body after the burned remains of his sister-in-law, Manjit Panghali, were discovered along the Deltaport Way causeway in October of 2006.
Five months after the discovery, Mukhtiar Panghali, Manjit’s husband, and Sukhvinder were arrested and charged.
The charges against Sukhvinder Panghali were later stayed*.
In a writ filed in B.C. Supreme Court, he accuses the Attorney General’s Ministry of “malicious prosecution” in relation to charges brought against him in the month before his sister-in-law’s murder.
The plaintiff is suing for general, aggravated, punitive and special damages for libel against him contained in the Richmond RCMP news release dated Oct. 25, 2006 — two days after Manjit Panghali’s body was discovered.
In September 2006, Sukhvinder Panghali was charged with criminal harassment involving a former girlfriend in Richmond. The charge was stayed in April 2007.
The lawsuit alleges the Crown initiated the harassment case “without reasonable and probable cause” and was motivated by malice or a purpose other than a belief in his guilt, resulting in “substantial loss, damage and expense.” It also claims the RCMP are liable for negligent investigation, false arrest and false imprisonment.
Manjit, who was four months pregnant with her second child, had been reported missing by her husband the week before her body was discovered.
Mukhtiar Panghali, who has been in custody since his arrest in March 2007, was denied bail earlier this year. The case is set to go to trial in April 2009.
[* RCMPWatch.com: The staying of charges does not clear the charged person. The charges are still on the books. ]