12 JUL 2018: The wife of a Quebec man who was sentenced to four years in a Cuban jail following a boating accident that killed a fellow tourist says her husband's conviction has been overturned. But Kahina Bensaadi says Cuban authorities are still refusing to allow her husband to return home while the case is reinvestigated.

Toufik Benhamiche, 47, 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.

Bensaadi says Cuba's highest court found flaws in a lower court's handling of the case and reversed all its decisions, including Benhamiche's conviction on a charge of criminal negligence causing death.

Now Bensaadi is calling on Canadian immigration officials to help allow her husband to return home while Cuban authorities decide whether to bring new charges.

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 assured it was easy to use and by no means dangerous.

At the time of the accident Sunwing said in a statement, "We can that confirm that our destination representatives in Cuba  provided ongoing assistance and practical support to both families affected by the tragic boating incident that occurred on July 7, 2017. The fatal accident took place during the boat adventure tour that forms part of the island’s Jeep On excursion that includes both a Jeep safari and a boat tour. (As a tour operator, Sunwing Vacations does not own, manage or operate local excursions.

"All excursions offered by the tour operator in Cuba are booked through our ground handler, Gaviota Tours. Gaviota Tours operates the Jeep safari, however the boat adventure is sub-contracted to Marlin SA.)

"Once our representatives were made aware that the incident had taken place we immediately stopped selling the tour and refunded any passengers booked on future tours pending a full investigation of the circumstances in which the incident occurred.

"The tour was only later re-opened for sale following a full safety audit undertaken by our destination representatives. The Jeep On combination is one of Gaviota Tour’s most popular tours and the fatal accident which tragically occurred remains the only major incident on record since the Boat Adventure tour began operating in 1997."

 

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