Manitoba

'Shake-and-bake' bombs sent to Winnipeg law firms made from household cleaners, says explosives expert

The trial of accused mail bomber Guido Amsel resumed Monday with testimony about the homemade explosive that seriously injured Winnipeg lawyer Maria Mitousis.

RCMP scientist tells trial for accused Guido Amsel that 33 items seized from scene had 'TATP' on them

This photo shows a shirt that Maria Mitousis was wearing when a bomb exploded in her hand. (Caroline Barghout/CBC)

The trial of accused mail bomber Guido Amsel resumed Monday with testimony about the homemade explosive that seriously injured Winnipeg lawyer Maria Mitousis. 

It's called triacetone triperoxide, or TATP, a highly volatile explosive compound that can be synthesized from easy to obtain household cleaners.

"Shake-and-bake chemistry" is how RCMP scientist Dr. Nigel Hearns described the process of making TATP: mix the three necessary liquid agents together, store the mixture in the fridge overnight, and by morning the crystallized explosive is ready for detonation.

​"It's a simple explosive to synthesize," Hearns said. 

TATP is so volatile, it has no commercial application or legal application, Hearns said.

TATP "is very sensitive, meaning it's very easy to ignite," he said. "It's too hazardous to handle."

Maria Mitousis lost her hand to a mail bomb in 2015. (John Einarson/CBC)
Hearns said 33 exhibits seized from the scene of a July 2015 explosion that cost Mitousis her right hand tested positive for TATP.

Court previously heard testimony the explosive was housed in a digital recorder that detonated when Mitousis pressed play.

Hearns said one gram of TATP held in a closed hand would be enough to "completely rip that hand apart."

Guido Amsel has pleaded not-guilty to 5 counts of attempted murder and several explosives offences. (Submitted/WPS via CP)
Hearns compared the bomb to a military fragmentation grenade, designed to injure or kill its target with shrapnel.

Amsel, 51, has pleaded not guilty to five counts of attempted murder and several explosives offences in connection with bombs that were delivered to two law firms on River Avenue and Stradbrook Avenue, and to his ex-wife's workplace on Washington Avenue in July 2015. The bombs sent to Stradbrook Avenue and Washington Avenue were safely detonated by police.  

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