Surrey man who murdered pregnant wife granted unescorted leaves from prison

A Surrey man who murdered his pregnant wife in a case that shook people across the Lower Mainland 15 years ago is now allowed unescorted leaves from prison to spend time with his family and work towards reintegrating into society.

Mukhtiar Panghali is serving a life sentence for second-degree murder after he killed his wife, Manjit, in 2006. Her badly burned remains were later found on a beach in Delta.

The Parole Board of Canada has granted Panghali permission to take Unescorted Temporary Absences (UTAs). In its decision, the board stated “UTAs are the next logical and safe step in your reintegration, and are supported by both the psychologist and the (Correctional Service Canada) and you are assessed as presenting a low risk on UTAs.”

Over the next year, Panghali can request UTAs. He would start off with eight-hour absences that exclude overnight visits. The length of time he would be allowed out unescorted would gradually increase.

The murder of the 31-year-old mother was a shock to people all over Surrey and the Metro Vancouver region. Manjit was four months pregnant with her second child at the time of her murder.

She was last seen alive on Oct. 18, 2006 at a prenatal yoga class.

Panghali reported Manjit missing 26 hours after she was last seen. He appeared at news conferences, sobbing and pleading for her safe return.

Her vehicle was later found with the alarm armed while her body was found burned on the beach several days later. Panghali was arrested in March 2007.

Evidence at trial showed Manjit had driven home where Panghali strangled her to death before moving and burning her body.

Panghali pleaded not guilty but was later was sentenced life in prison with no chance of parole for 15 years. He attempted to appeal, but was unsuccessful and later admitted to the murder as well as his negative feelings towards his wife.

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Panghali was sentenced life in prison with no chance of parole for 15 years.

On Thursday, the Board said Panghali completed a Community Integration Program, during which a facilitator determined he has a “solid basis for a successful release with a strong network of family” to help him, should he ever be granted parole.

It said a recent Psychological Risk Assessment deemed he was “low risk to violently reoffend while on UTAs and low-moderate range while on day parole.”

The board noted that the assessment opined that Panghali would “benefit from a gradual release by transitioning from the escorted temporary absences … to UTAs and then day parole.”

While Panghali is on UTAs, he is not allowed to buy, drink or even possess alcohol or drugs, with the exception of prescribed medication and over-the-counter drugs.

“You must avoid all intoxicants while on your UTA to manage your risk,” the parole board stated in its decision.

He is required to report all relationships and friendships with women to a parole supervisor.

“As you offended against your wife, your relationships with females require ongoing monitoring.”

Panghali is also not allowed to have any contact with Manjit’s family, including his and Manjit’s daughter, without written permission from a parole supervisor, ” toprevent any further victimization and unwanted contact.”

Panghali held a teaching license for 25 years and taught high school science. B.C.’s Teacher Regulation Branch later stripped him of that license.

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