Manitoba

4 bombs delivered to targets associated with Guido Amsel no coincidence: Crown

Four bombs targeting three people associated with Guido Amsel share too many similarities to have been the work of different people, prosecutors argued Monday.

Prosecutor wants judge to consider bombs together, not individually

Guido Amsel is on trial charged with 5 counts of attempted murder, 1 count of aggravated assault and several explosive offences. (Facebook)

Four bombs targeting three people associated with Guido Amsel share too many similarities to have been the work of different people, prosecutors argued Monday.

Three mail bombs were delivered to Amsel's ex-wife Iris and two lawyers associated with an ongoing court fight with Guido Amsel in early July 2015, just one week before a scheduled auction to satisfy a debt the accused owed Iris.

"That all of these people are connected to the accused and the litigation itself is no coincidence," Crown attorney Chris Vanderhooft argued during a "similar fact" motion before Judge Tracey Lord.

A finding of similar fact would allow Lord, in reaching a guilty or not guilty finding, to compare the bombing incidents instead of examining each one individually. 

"It is the cumulative effect of all of the evidence that you have to look at," Vanderhooft said. "You don't look at them in isolation ... because that would lead you into dismissing them piecemeal and not looking at the whole picture."

Amsel, 51, is charged with five counts of attempted murder, one count of aggravated assault and several explosives offences in connection with three mail bombs delivered to his ex-wife, Iris Amsel, and two law firms in July 2015, and a December 2013 explosion outside Iris Amsel's Rural Municipality of St. Clements home.

All three of the 2015 bombs used TATP, a homemade explosive using easy to obtain household chemicals, and included messages to their targets. A note included in a package delivered to lawyer Maria Mitousis encouraged her to activate a recording device that detonated in her hand. A package sent to Guido Amsel's former lawyer and safely detonated by police included a message on a piece of stamped metal that read in part "report or blow your head off."

Meant to be detonated by targets

"We say that all of the explosives are of the type described by [witness and RCMP scientist] Nigel Hearns as 'victim-initiated devices,'" meaning they were meant to be detonated by their targets, Vanderhooft said. 

Vanderhooft said it is unknown what kind of explosive was used in a bomb that detonated outside Iris Amsel's home in December 2013, but it too appeared to bear the "hallmarks of a victim-initiated device." A piece of string tied to a truck outside the home was found to have Amsel's DNA. Prosecutors allege the string was likely a "trip-wire" to detonate the bomb. No one was injured in the blast and it is unclear how it detonated.

"It's far beyond a coincidence that Iris Amsel gets not one, but two different bombs on two different occasions," Vanderhooft said. 

Amsel's DNA was also found on a plastic pouch seized at the scene of the River Avenue bomb blast that cost Mitousis her hand.

While the River Avenue and RM of St. Clements blasts may arguably be linked by DNA, there are no equivalent links to the other two bombs, said defence lawyer Jeremy Kostiuk. 

Kostiuk said there was no evidence the string found at the 2013 bomb scene was actually connected to a bomb. Police "couldn't discount the possibility" the string had been unearthed by the explosion and the DNA survived, Kostiuk said.

Lord will render her decision on the similar fact motion Tuesday.

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