CTVNews.ca Staff with report from CTV Montreal's Matt Grillo
Posted Sunday, December 9, 2018, 20:40 EST
Protesters gathered outside a Cuban tourist office in Montreal to support a father who has stayed in Cuba for more than a year – and faces a second trial on Monday for his involvement in a deadly catastrophe.
On a family trip to Cuba in July 2017, local Tuareg Benimicee ruled a boat that was out of control and killed a woman from Ontario. He was charged and convicted of criminal negligence causing death.
Benamies was released from custody after his conviction and four-year sentence were rejected by Cuba's Supreme Court.
"It was fantastic news for me, at the time I felt that the nightmare was over," Benamaic told CTV Montreal in Cuba.
He and his lawyer say he has been given very little guidance on how to operate the boat.
But though last summer his sentence was overturned, Benamache was not allowed to go home. On Monday, he will be tried again for criminal negligence after a second trial has been ordered.
On Sunday, more than 50 protesters gathered in Montreal to ask the Canadian and Cuban governments to do more to get them home.
"This can happen to everyone, like any tourist who was there, and to see the injustice that prevails in Cuba, we had to do something," said Linda Peleri protest.
Benamichi's wife, Kahina Bensaadi, told CTO Montreal that the situation was "very difficult." Although her husband is not in jail, she said she was in one.
"As if you are in jail, if you can not work, you can not see your family, you can not kiss your two daughters every night," she said, adding she did not believe the Cuban system,
"The same judges ignored the law a year and a half ago," Bensaadi said. "It's totally unrealistic, they ignore everything we think we are in the Middle Ages."
She said she had been forced to send him money to pay for the Cuban apartment he was staying in. The couple said the hardest is to explain it to their children.
"They say to me," Daddy will never come home? "Said Benamaic.
Citizenship lawyer Julius Gray said his client was not guilty and claimed his rights violated. He believes the Cuban Supreme Court must have had the last word in the case.
– What we want from them [the Canadian government] to do is to make a concerted, energetic effort to pull it out, "he told CTV Montreal." It just shows us that some of us may be in such a situation somewhere, or even here, maybe, and no one it cares.
In a statement, Global Affairs Canada said consular officials provided services and had frequent contacts with Benamice, his wife and the authorities in Cuba.
Meanwhile, in Cuba Benamice said he was preparing a guilty verdict, and if that happens he and his lawyer plan to appeal again.