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Friday, August 26, 2011

B.C. sues for house in human trafficking case

Posted: Aug 26, 2011 9:09 AM PT

Last Updated: Aug 26, 2011 10:28 AM PT

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An African woman claims she was held as a virtual slave in this West Vancouver home for one year.  
An African woman claims she was held as a virtual slave in this West Vancouver home for one year. (CBC)

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The B.C. government is attempting to seize the $3.1 million home of a West Vancouver woman charged with human trafficking.
According to the civil claim filed by the province's Director of Civil Forfeiture in B.C. Supreme Court on Thursday, Mumtaz Ladha and two family members used the home as an "instrument of unlawful activity."
Ladha, 55, was charged with human smuggling after a 21-year-old woman claimed she was being confined as a servant at the family's British Properties home.
The young woman left the home in June 2009 after living there for one year and made her way to a women's shelter, police said earlier this year.
The director of civil forfeiture wants all or part of the property where Ladha allegedly made the woman work up to 22 hours a day for a pittance of a wage.

Worked for $200 a month

According to the court documents, the servant was offered a job for $200 a month. But when she arrived from Africa in 2008, she began a life of indenture that saw her wash cars for the family and its friends, launder underwear by hand and shovel snow for Ladha's vehicles, clad only in a cotton dress and sandals.
Ladha also allegedly took possession of the woman's passport after she arrived in Canada, according to police.
The claim also provides insight into the RCMP investigation. Border services officials told police the servant's initial visa application was refused, but later accepted on the basis of a doctor's note which said Ladha needed help with an alleged health condition — vertigo.
But the alleged victim later told investigators that to her knowledge Ladha was in "perfect health."
No statement of defence has been filed by Ladha or the other family members, but in the past the family has said police have got it all wrong and the African woman making the allegation was never forced to work as a slave in Canada.
Ladha was arrested without incident at Vancouver airport on July 19 as she returned to Canada and is facing one charge of human trafficking and one charge of human smuggling.

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