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

A Red Deer woman dies in a crash east of Stettler

Police continue to investigate collision

Couple arrested in Halkirk area drug bust appear in Stettler court

Charges stem from July RCMP raid on Paintearth County home

UPDATE: 18-year-old Rimbey teen dies in collision

A portion of Highway 53 west of Rimbey is down to one lane while crews investigate

U.S. congressman issues dire warning to Canada’s NAFTA team: time is running out

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland is expected to resume talks with the U.S.

Tornado touches down in Ottawa and Gatineau, Que.

Environment Canada says cars and homes have been damaged by severe thunderstorms and high wind gusts

Tilray Inc sees $10-billion in market cap go up in smoke

Tilray’s share price closed at $123 US on Friday, a decline from its intraday peak of nearly $300 US earlier in the week

Canada to boost support for riskier forms of renewable energy: minister

A $30-million contribution to a $117-million tidal project hopes to harness the immense power of the Bay of Fundy

WATCH: Grey Cup was in Red Deer to support military families

Money raised will go towards the Military Family Resource Centre

Browns beat streak, win first NFL game in 635 days

Baker Mayfield erased any doubts about why the Browns selected him with the No. 1 overall pick

New silver collector coin features Indigenous dancer

New silver collectors coin captures fast-paced energy of an Indigenous powwow

Off Nova Scotia, a bid to ‘unravel the mystery’ of great white sharks

The question: Is Nova Scotia the second mating site for Atlantic white sharks, something scientists say could be key to protecting the endangered species.

Most Read