Lawyers for a B.C. woman recently acquitted of human trafficking charges are asking the province to cease their efforts to seize her home.
Mumtaz Ladha was found not guilty in B.C. Supreme Court on Nov. 22, with Justice Lauri Ann Fenlon concluding that not only was there reasonable doubt as to her guilt, but that she was convinced Ladha’s accuser was lying.
Following the decision, Ladha’s lawyer wrote to the B.C. Civil Forfeiture Office, requesting that they end their attempts to seize her West Vancouver house, worth $4 million.
The forfeiture office filed suit against Ladha two years ago, after the charges of human trafficking and other offences under the Immigration Act were announced against her.
However, despite the judge’s clear declaration of Ladha’s non-guilt, the civil forfeiture case could continue.
While criminal convictions rely on guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the civil case can be decided by a balance of probabilities.
Micheal Vonn, with the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, says that forfeitures are being used to prosecute people a second time, and many people simply settle to avoid the drawn-out court battle.
"Surely in these circumstances, you wouldn’t want to bring proceedings against her," she told CBC News.