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

Jumbo’s legal boondoggle continues

Province appealing the BC Supreme Court decision

Good wood; Radium lumbers to top prize

Wood WORKS! BC gives honour to Radium at UBCM

Unsanitary change room conditions exposed at Radium’s hot springs pools

Health inspector felt nothing of concern posed a “serious physical or health risk”

Brewer Creek: a fall classic

Summit Trail Makers Society

Video: Flyers new mascot ‘Gritty’ a bearded, googly-eyed terror

The Philadelphia Flyers unveiled their new mascot Monday, and as one would expect of the team that gave us the “Broad Street Bullies,” he’s far from cuddly.

Wartime Wednesdays

Invermere’s Elinor Florence investigates stories from our wartime past

Two B.C. police departments won’t use new roadside saliva test to detect pot

The Dräger DrugTest 5000 is designed to find THC, the high-inducing part of marijuana

Canada aiming for the moon, and beyond, with new space technology efforts

With an eye on future lunar exploration, Canada’s space agency is calling on companies to present their ideas for everything from moon-rover power systems to innovative mineral prospecting techniques.

New Brunswick Premier meets with lieutenant-governor as Tories, Liberals vie for power

New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant said the only other leader he had spoken with since results came in was Green Leader David Coon.

Trudeau looks to restart Canada’s UN charm offensive in New York City

Freeland says the question of job retraining in the 21st century — and the uncertainty that surrounds it — is the federal government’s central preoccupation.

Calgary mayor seeks person who leaked details of closed-door Olympic meeting

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi says he will ask the city’s integrity commissioner to investigate a leak of details from an in-camera council meeting.

B.C. MP Cannings spared brunt of Ottawa tornadoes

MP Richard Cannings was spared the impact of the tornadoes that hit the Ottawa region

Edmonton cannabis company revenues more than triples to $19.1 million

Aurora Cannabis revenues more than triple in fourth quarter

Most Read