November 22, 2017

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Accused mail bomber 'a hundred per cent not guilty,' lawyer tells court

SUPPLIED</p><p>Guido Amsel</p>

SUPPLIED

Guido Amsel

The man accused of mailing bombs that triggered explosions targeting his ex-wife and local lawyers says he's "a hundred per cent not guilty" of the charges against him, his lawyer says.

Defence lawyer Saheel Zaman entered not-guilty pleas on behalf of Guido Amsel Monday to mark the start of Amsel's provincial court trial on attempted murder and explosives-related charges.

"My client's position is he's a hundred per cent not guilty," Zaman told provincial court Judge Tracey Lord.

The judge was set to hear arguments from Crown and defence lawyers today on the legality of a blood sample investigators took from Amsel during the police investigation, but Zaman said the defence needed more time to review with Amsel the Crown prosecutors' materials they received late last week.

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The man accused of mailing bombs that triggered explosions targeting his ex-wife and local lawyers says he's "a hundred per cent not guilty" of the charges against him, his lawyer says.

Defence lawyer Saheel Zaman entered not-guilty pleas on behalf of Guido Amsel Monday to mark the start of Amsel's provincial court trial on attempted murder and explosives-related charges.

"My client's position is he's a hundred per cent not guilty," Zaman told provincial court Judge Tracey Lord.

The judge was set to hear arguments from Crown and defence lawyers today on the legality of a blood sample investigators took from Amsel during the police investigation, but Zaman said the defence needed more time to review with Amsel the Crown prosecutors' materials they received late last week.

Zaman is challenging the information police used to obtain the warrant for Amsel's DNA, and that pre-trial motion was scheduled to be argued over the next two weeks leading up to the start of witnesses' testimony during the trial on Oct. 25. Now, court has been adjourned until next Monday, leaving only one week of court time for the DNA warrant challenge.

Lord granted the adjournment, noting the defence was entitled to seven days' notice to review reports and documentation from Crown prosecutors Chris Vanderhooft and Mitchell Lavitt.

Amsel is being held in custody at Headingley Correctional Centre. He did not speak during today's brief hearing, except to confirm to the judge that he could hear the proceedings.

Amsel faces five counts of attempted murder after letter bombs were sent to his ex-wife and two Winnipeg law firms in July 2015. One of the bombs seriously injured lawyer Maria Mitousis, who had represented Amsel’s ex-wife in a divorce proceeding. He is also charged in relation to an explosion at his ex-wife’s home in 2013.

Amsel, who was 49 at the time, was arrested more than two years ago after investigators identified him as a suspect in the mailing of three explosive packages — meant for Amsel’s ex-wife, his ex-wife’s lawyer and his own lawyer, police said at the time.

Mitousis lost her right hand in the blast and had to undergo extensive surgery after a package she opened inside her River Avenue law office exploded July 3, 2015. She was in her office with several co-workers nearby when she handled a package addressed to her that contained a bomb.

Another package, allegedly meant for Amsel’s ex-wife, was delivered to a Winnipeg auto shop on Washington Avenue and later was detonated by police. A third explosive package, also safely detonated by police, was delivered to Amsel’s former lawyer’s office on Stradbrook Avenue.

The series of explosive packages mailed through Canada Post prompted police to encourage the public to be wary of suspicious mail and led to further investigation that eventually resulted in additional charges against Amsel, who has no criminal record.

katie.may@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @thatkatiemay

Read more by Katie May.

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