Winnipeg man pleads not guilty to letter-bomb charges, fights DNA evidence
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WINNIPEG — A man accused of sending letter bombs in the mail, including one that cost his ex-wife's lawyer her hand, pleaded not guilty Monday to five counts of attempted murder and to several explosives-related charges.
Guido Amsel is also challenging the validity of a warrant that authorized a blood sample to be taken from him after his arrest. The sample is to be used for DNA evidence at his upcoming trial.
"The issue will be about the legality of a blood sample that was seized from our client, and whether or not the information that was provided to the judge was 100 per cent accurate or not," Amsel's lawyer, Saheel Zaman, said outside court.
Zaman said he did not want to go into further details until a pre-trial hearing begins. It was to start Monday but was pushed back a week.
Amsel was arrested after packages containing explosives were sent to his former wife, Iris Amsel, and two Winnipeg law firms in July 2015. Maria Mitousis, who had represented the wife in the couple's divorce, lost her right hand and suffered other injuries when one package detonated.
The second bomb was found a day later at an auto repair shop where Iris Amsel worked. It was detonated by police.
The third bomb was found at a law office where Sarah McEachern used to work and was safely detonated by police. McEachern had represented Guido Amsel in a lawsuit that had been filed by his ex-wife after their divorce. The lawsuit was over money from an auto body shop the couple had run.
Amsel is also charged in a 2013 explosion at Iris Amsel's home, which did not result in any injuries.
Amsel, 51, has been in custody since his arrest and did not speak during his brief court appearance.
He listened as Zahan entered not guilty pleas and notified the court that his client wants to be tried by judge alone in a trial scheduled to start next month.
"He's maintained his innocence 100 per cent during the start of this matter," Zahan said outside court.
"He's anxious to have his day in court and present the evidence, and hopefully have a judge make a ruling with respect to his innocence, we hope."