Handwriting on suspicious package 'seemed similar' to Guido Amsel's, ex-wife testifies
'I suggest you planted the bombs,' defence says during testimony from accused letter bomber's ex-wife
Iris Amsel was returning home from a road trip with her brother to Alberta on July 3, 2015 when she turned on her car radio and heard some startling news.
"I heard there was a bombing and that Maria Mitousis was severely injured," the ex-wife of accused mail bomber Guido Amsel told a Winnipeg court Tuesday.
Her testimony included details about the business and personal strife between her and her ex-husband, accusations of using a fake identity to come between him and his new wife, and the defence's suggestion that she herself planted the bombs Guido Amsel is accused of mailing to her and others.
Iris Amsel told court that after hearing about Mitousis's injury, she immediately phoned her boyfriend and business associate, James Block, in Winnipeg.
"I said, 'Do you realize this is my lawyer?'" she testified.
Guido Amsel, 51, is on trial, charged with five counts of attempted murder and several explosives offences in connection with three mail bombs delivered to Iris Amsel and two law firms in July 2015 and a December 2013 explosion outside Iris Amsel's RM of St. Clements home.
Iris said she was still en route home when Block sent her a picture of a package addressed to her and delivered to Block's Washington Avenue autobody garage.
We decided not to touch this letter … We wanted to make sure this wasn't something that would potentially harm us.- Iris Amsel
Iris said she believed the handwriting on the package "seemed similar" to Guido Amsel's.
Iris said when she and her brother arrived home they inspected the house "to make sure everything was as we left it."
Iris said she found some papers with Guido's handwriting and compared them to the picture of the package.
"I thought many of the letters were similar to the samples I had," she told the court Tuesday.
Iris and Block met at the autobody garage the next morning to look at the package.
"We decided not to touch this letter," Iris said. "We knew the return address did not exist. We wanted to make sure this wasn't something that would potentially harm us."
Iris said she reported the suspicious package to police. Court has heard police detonated the package later that day.
In earlier testimony, Iris provided details of her tumultuous divorce from the accused. Court heard Guido Amsel filed for divorce in 2001, about 10 years after the couple immigrated to Canada from their native Germany.
At the time the divorce was finalized in August 2004, the two continued to work together at two autobody businesses Guido started, Euro-Tech Autobody and Affordable Autobody.
With the divorce, Iris became a 50 per cent partner in the business and assumed full ownership of the family home after her parents paid Guido $85,000.
A year after the couple divorced, Guido Amsel married a woman from the Philippines who he met online.
It was around that time, Iris said, that she and Guido agreed to assume sole individual ownership of the companies, with Guido keeping Euro-Tech Autobody. Guido paid Iris $100,000 from the sale of property, but still owed her $40,000 and 50 per cent of the proceeds from the future sale of construction equipment.
Iris said she continued to work with Amsel until 2009 when he "forced [her] out" after learning she had assumed a fake online identity years earlier in an effort to disrupt his relationship with his new wife.
In 2010, Iris retained lawyer Maria Mitousis and sued Guido for the outstanding $40,000 and equipment sale debt. Guido later counter-sued and the matter remained unresolved at the time of his 2015 arrest.
There were more legal actions, with Guido refusing to sign travel documents allowing her to bring their son to Germany. "He assumed [the son] would be a flight risk with me," Iris said.
Guido paid child support, but later "decided [the boy] was not his son," Iris said. A DNA test later proved he was Guido's son, she said.
'You were out to destroy his relationship'
Court has heard Guido accused Iris of stealing $3 million from his business. During cross-examination, defence lawyer Saheel Zaman accused Iris of mailing the bomb packages to herself and others in an effort to cast blame on Guido and prevent him from pursuing her for the missing money.
"I suggest you planted the bombs," Zaman said.
"No, that is not correct," Iris said.
Zaman alleged Iris was angry at Guido after he married a woman 17 years her junior, just one year after their divorce.
"You were upset by the fact he wanted to divorce you … and you were out to destroy his relationship," he said.
Iris admitted to creating a fake online identity — a man named Adrian — but denied any direct communications with Guido's soon-to-be new wife.
"This Adrian character was expressing interest in [Guido's wife] and indicating he had lots of money," Zaman alleged.
"That is not true," Iris replied.
When the woman Guido Amsel was involved with suffered a motorcycle accident in the Philippines, Iris sent dead flowers to her hospital room, Zaman alleged.
"I don't recall. I know I personally did not send any flowers," Iris responded.
When asked if she had someone else send the flowers, she responded, "Dead flowers? No."
"Any other kind of flowers?" Zaman asked, to which Iris replied, "It's possible."
When Guido asked Iris to send a letter to Immigration Canada in support of his new wife, Iris wrote that the woman was a prostitute, Zaman alleged.
Iris said "it was possible" but that she didn't recall.
The trial continues.