WINNIPEG — A man accused of sending letter bombs to two law offices and his ex-wife testified Wednesday that he was trying to put an acrimonious past with her behind him and did not send the packages.
Guido Amsel also told his trial he doesn't have any experience in putting together explosive materials.
"I have not sent explosives to anyone, any time," he said
Amsel, who is 51 and the owner of an autobody shop, has pleaded not guilty to five counts of attempted murder and several explosives-related charges.
Far from planning to harm his former wife, Iris, he was trying to look to the future with his second wife and their two children, Amsel said.
"I had a wife, kids," he told court.
"It was time to move on."
He also had no ill will against the law firms the couple had used in protracted legal battles over money, he said
Amsel was arrested after three letter bombs were found in Winnipeg in July 2015. One exploded and caused lawyer Maria Mitousis, who had represented Iris Amsel in a lawsuit against her ex-husband, to lose her right hand.
The other two bombs — found at the ex-wife's workplace and at a law firm that had represented Amsel at one time — were detonated safely by police.
Amsel is also accused in a 2013 explosion outside Iris Amsel's home. The blast left a crater but did not cause any injuries.
Court has already heard the bomb that injured Mitousis was in a hand-held voice recorder and came with a note that told her to press play. Mitousis testified she did that and the resulting blast left her bleeding and with severe injuries.
Police later found two voice recorders in a safe in Amsel's home. He told court Wednesday he used the devices for a variety of purposes, such as recording a conversation with a lawyer or playing with his children.
"We had Christmas songs on them."
Amsel also said the handwriting on the letter-bomb packages was not his.
Court documents show he and his wife's divorce proceedings started in 2004 and dragged on for years.
Even after the couple's relationship was formally severed, he accused her of siphoning more than $3 million from the autobody business they had co-owned. He had taken full control of it after the divorce and said he discovered questionable financial transactions.
Iris Amsel denied all allegations.
In 2010, she sued him for money she felt she was still owed from their joint business. Amsel denied he owed her the money and countersued. The case dragged on for years and he changed lawyers twice.
The acrimony appeared to end at a pre-trial conference in March 2015. A memorandum from the meeting said Guido Amsel agreed that he owed his ex-wife $40,000 plus interest, dropped his countersuit and agreed to sell off vehicles and equipment to get the money.
An auction was advertised for July 11, but it was cancelled after the explosion at Mitousis's office on July 3 and Amsel's subsequent arrest.