Facing a second trial, protesters gather to support Montrealer stuck in Cuba for over a year
Published Sunday, December 9, 2018 3:44PM EST
Last Updated Monday, December 10, 2018 7:07PM EST
With a second trial scheduled to begin on Monday, protesters gathered outside a Cuban tourism office in Montreal on Sunday in support of a man who has been stuck in that country for over a year after he was involved in a boating accident that left a fellow tourist dead.
Toufik Benhamiche was driving a boat that veered out of control in July 2017. An Ontario woman died in the incident and since then, Benhamiche has been unable to return to his Montreal-area home, despite being released from custody after his conviction and four-year prison sentence were overturned.
Benhamiche’s wife, Kahina Bensaadi, said her husband has been living in an apartment while prosecutors prepare to try the case again.
“It’s the same judges who ignored the law a year-and-a-half before,” she said. “He’s never been in jail, but it’s like if you’re in jail if you can’t work, you can’t see your family, you can’t kiss your two daughters every night.”
In September, Bensaadi said she was considering taking legal action against the Canadian government to force them to do more to get her husband home.
The family is represented in Canada by civil rights attorney Julius Grey. He said the government should be doing more to pressure the Cuban government on the case.
“They have, since we’ve sued, written some letters, but those letters are not indicative of the type of pressure they can put on,” he said. “I think the Canadian government, by saying they’re going to put a warning to tourists, would have an effect in Cuba.”
Bensaadi has also filed a lawsuit against travel company Sunwing, saying her husband was given little instruction in how to operate the boat before the crash.
“It’s not responsible to do expeditions without making sure the tourists are safe,” she said. “Sunwing is responsible, too, for sure.”