Quebecer Toufik Benhamiche is still not allowed to leave Cuba even though the country’s highest court has overturned his conviction for criminal negligence causing death. The Canadian Press.

Wife of Canadian man confined in Cuba considering legal action against Ottawa

Tourist confined in Cuba considers more legal action

The wife of a Quebec man who has been stuck in Cuba for 14 months after being involved in a boating accident that killed a fellow tourist says she’s considering taking legal action against the Canadian government in a bid to help bring him home.

Kahina Bensaadi said Cuban authorities have refused to allow her husband to return to his home near Montreal even though a conviction and four-year sentence stemming from the accident were overturned and he is no longer in custody.

Her husband, Toufik Benhamiche, was driving a small boat as part of a tourist excursion in July 2017 in Cayo Coco when it veered out of control and fatally struck a woman from Ontario.

A Cuban court found the Mascouche resident guilty of criminal negligence causing death and sentenced him to four years in prison.

But in June, Cuba’s highest court found flaws in the lower court’s handling of the case and reversed all its decisions including the conviction, Bensaadi said.

But the decision means the case needs to be reinvestigated from the beginning, which could take months or even years in the Cuban justice system.

Bensaadi, who is struggling to care for the couple’s two young daughters, says she’s angry and disappointed that the Canadian government hasn’t done more to help despite her constant pleas.

“They have never deigned to lift a finger, not even to help us in the choice of a competent lawyer to represent us,” she wrote in an email.

“We had no choice but to fend for ourselves, because in any case all our attempts to solicit their help proved futile, and all ended with emails (or) letters stripped of compassion to tell us that they can do absolutely nothing and that Cuban justice must follow its course.”

Human rights lawyer Julius Grey, who is representing the family, said they will decide in the next week whether to seek a declaratory action “similar to Khadr,” referring to former Guantanamo Bay inmate Omar Khadr.

In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled the Canadian-born Khadr’s human rights were being violated at Guantanamo Bay.

Bensaadi said the possible legal action would be aimed at compelling the Canadian government to meet what she sees as their obligations to help her husband.

“I find it deplorable to have to think about starting a legal proceeding against one’s own government to oblige them to give assistance when that would normally be their primary mandate,” she said.

Global Affairs Canada said in a statement that it is providing assistance to Benhamiche, “a Canadian facing travel restrictions in Cuba.”

“Consular officials in Havana, Cuba, are in contact with local authorities to gather further information on the status of his case,” reads an emailed statement.

The family has also filed a lawsuit in Canada against travel company Sunwing, alleging Benhamiche was given little instruction on how to operate the craft and was allegedly assured it was easy to use and by no means dangerous.

Related: Canadians stranded in Cuba after plane crash returning home

Related: Pair of Metro Vancouver police officers arrested, released, in Cuba

Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Kelowna artist featured on furniture

Shandra Smith’s work is now available on credenzas

Destructive blaze in West Kelowna fatal for cat

The fire at a West Kelowna condo claimed the life of one tenant’s cat

Man pinned under metal tank in West Kelowna

Emergency personnel are on the scene

Mudslide sends debris into Highway

Highway 33 near Joe Rich had mud spilled on the highway from the slide

Kangaroo Creek Farm hops into season

Lake Country’s popular tourist site has opened its doors for the season

Sparks fly as SUV speeds down wrong side of Highway 1 trying to flee RCMP

Captured on video, the vehicle headed westbound against oncoming traffic before crashing

Sock Hop aims to send dancers back to another time

Writers’ Festival fundraiser in Salmon Arm springs into step for another year

Fundraising campaign launched for man caught in SilverStar avalanche

In only two days, the GoFundMe surpassed its $15,000 goal

Terror at sea: Helicopter rescues frightened cruise passengers in Norway

The Viking Sky cruise ship was carrying 1,300 passengers and crew when it experienced engine trouble

DOJ: Trump campaign did not co-ordinate with Russia in 2016

Attorney General William Barr said special counsel “does not exonerate” Trump of obstructing justice

Trudeau in Vancouver to support Tamara Taggart at Liberal nomination event

The former broadcaster is seeking the nomination for the Vancouver Kingsway riding

Penticton SAR team helicopters injured climber to safety

A 30-year-old woman suffered a suspected lower-limb fracture in Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park

Kootnekoff: R v. Sidhu, was he asleep?

Driver in Humboldt crash wasn’t distracted at time of collision with bus,… Continue reading

Trudeau calls May 6 byelection for B.C. riding of Nanaimo-Ladysmith

The riding opened up when Sheila Malcolmson resigned in January

Most Read