WINNIPEG — A man accused of sending letter bombs to two law offices and his ex-wife has suggested that she is the real culprit and went so far as to send a bomb to herself.
Guido Amsel, being tried on five counts of attempted murder and several explosives-related charges, pointed the finger at his former wife, Iris, as he told court Wednesday that he is innocent.
"I have the assumption that Iris Amsel is behind it, yes," Amsel, 51, said under cross-examination.
"You're assuming that, sir, because you have no evidence," replied Crown attorney Chris Vanderhooft.
"Maybe she hired someone. I have no idea," Amsel said later.
Amsel was arrested after a letter-bomb exploded on July 3, 2015, inside the Winnipeg law office of Maria Mitousis, who had represented his wife in a long-running battle over money from an autobody shop the couple had co-owned before their divorce a decade earlier.
The explosion severely injured Mitousis and cost her a hand. Other letter bombs were found later that week at Iris Amsel's workplace and at the law firm that had represented Guido Amsel in the money dispute. Police detonated both devices safely.
Amsel was later charged in a 2013 explosion outside his former wife's home. The blast left a crater but did not cause any injuries.
He told court he was not behind any of the packages and doesn't have any experience putting together explosive materials.
"I have not sent explosives to anyone, any time," he said.
Amsel's lawyer, Saheel Zaman, suggested during Iris Amsel's testimony last month that she was behind the letter bombs. She replied: "No, that is not correct."
She was never charged.
Court documents show the Amsel divorce started in 2004 and dragged on for years. Even after the couple's relationship was formally severed, Amsel accused his ex-wife of siphoning more than $3 million from the autobody business and filed a lawsuit.
She denied all allegations and sued him for money she felt she was still owed from their joint business.
The acrimony appeared to end at a pre-trial conference in March 2015. A memorandum from the meeting said Amsel agreed that he owed his ex-wife $40,000 plus interest, dropped his lawsuit and agreed to sell off vehicles and equipment to get the money.
He told court Wednesday he had decided he wanted to focus on his new life with his second wife and two children.
"I had a wife, kids ... it was time to move on."
The Crown attorney suggested it is hard to believe that Amsel suddenly felt serene after years of legal proceedings.
"Suddenly, you let it go because you were happy?"
A few months before the bombs were found, Amsel agreed to hold an auction of his body shop's equipment and vehicles to pay his ex-wife the $40,000.
Eight days before the auction was to be held, the bomb in Mitousis's office exploded. The auction was cancelled after Amsel's arrest.