'They're not letting him leave': Canadian man stuck in Cuba despite overturned conviction
Published Friday, July 13, 2018 9:07AM EDT
A Quebec man has been stuck in Cuba for more than year as he awaits the local prosecution’s decision on how to proceed with his case involving a boating accident in which a woman died.
While on a tourist excursion during a family trip to Cuba in July 2017, Toufik Benhamiche lost control of the boat and ended up fatally colliding with a woman from Ontario. He was later convicted of criminal negligence causing death and sentenced to four years in prison.
The conviction, however, was later overturned when Cuba's highest court found errors in how the lower court handled the case.
“As I now perceive it, probably that boat was by itself too powerful,” Julius Grey, the family’s lawyer, told CTV Montreal. “It would take a trained pilot which (the boating company) didn't require.”
Benhamiche, from the Montreal suburb of Mascouche, Que., is no longer in prison, but isn’t allowed to leave Cuba until local prosecutors decide how they want to proceed with the case.
“They're just not letting him leave,” Grey said. “He is just there aimlessly. He can't work. He doesn't have his family.”
Benhamiche’s family is pleading with the Canadian government to help bring the father of two back to Canada.
In a statement, Global Affairs Canada said they have consular officials in Havana working with “local authorities to gather further information on the status of (Benhamiche’s) case,” but could not offer any further information.
In the meantime, Benhamiche’s wife Kahina Bensaadi says her family is desperate to have him back home.
With a report from CTV Montreal’s Matt Grillo