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Brother-in-law in high-profile murder case files suit against RCMP

Sukhvinder Panghali is striking back. After several criminal charges against him were stayed and others were dismissed in court, Mr. Panghali has filed a lawsuit alleging he has been the victim of malicious prosecution, a negligent police investigation, libel, slander, violation of privacy rights and a breach of his employment contract.

Mr. Panghali was caught in the media spotlight in the fall of 2006 when he was arrested in the high-profile Manjit Kaur Panghali case.

Ms. Panghali, a pregnant Grade 1 teacher with a three-year-old daughter, disappeared in mid-October, 2006, after leaving home for a prenatal yoga class. Her burned body was found on a beach days later.

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Her death drew national attention to the issue of violence against women in the Indo-Canadian community. Her husband, Mukhtiar Singh Panghali, has been charged with second-degree murder.

Sukhvinder Singh Panghali, her brother-in-law, was charged with being an accessory after the fact to Manjit's murder and interfering with a dead body. The charges against him were stayed in July, 2007.

The lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court earlier this week refers to events that occurred before his sister-in-law's death in October, 2006.

Mr. Panghali was charged in September, 2006, with harassment after a former girlfriend complained she had been stalked. Those charges were stayed several months later.

But before dropping the harassment case, two police officers on Sept. 1, 2006, lied to Ms. Panghali and on Sept. 4, 2006, Crown counsel initiated criminal proceedings without reasonable and probable cause, Mr. Panghali alleges.

The lawsuit identifies eight RCMP officers who Mr. Panghali alleges were negligent in their investigation. He accuses RCMP officers of arresting him and putting him in prison without a legal justification on four occasions.

He alleges an RCMP officer violated his right to privacy on Sept. 6, 2006, by disclosing personal, private information to his sister-in-law.

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He alleges that unidentified RCMP officers libelled him in a news release dated Oct. 25, 2006. The news release, which is still accessible on the City of Richmond website, states that the Richmond RCMP were asking the media not to try to locate the victim who claimed she was harassed by Mr. Panghali. The RCMP state that the victim's safety would be severely compromised if her whereabouts were known to Mr. Panghali.

He also alleges his privacy rights were violated where he worked as an airplane mechanic. He alleges he was libelled on Sept. 5, 2006, when certain information was included in his employment file. The Vancouver International Airport Authority induced a breach of his contract on Sept. 29, 2006 by revoking his restricted-area identity card without justification, he alleges.

Mr. Panghali's lawyer Roger McConchie and spokespersons for Crown prosecutors and the RCMP declined to comment yesterday about the lawsuit.

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