Toronto

Trial of accused letter bomber opens

A Toronto man accused of sending contaminated water and explosive mail packages to a number of people and businesses was motivated by a need to get back at those he thought had wronged him, a court heard Wednesday.

A Toronto man accused of sending contaminated water and explosive mail packages to a number of people and businesses was motivated by a need to get back at those he thought had wronged him, court heard Wednesday.

Adel Mohamed Arnaout, 39, has pleaded not guilty to 16 charges, including 11 counts of attempted murder. Opening statements were heard Wednesday.

Those charges include eight counts of attempted murder for allegedly sending bottled water contaminated with a toxic industrial solvent to a number of targets in June and July 2004.

On Wednesday, the Crown called witnesses from two modelling agencies hired by Arnaout, an aspiring actor and model. He is accused of injecting a solvent into the water bottles and delivering them to the agencies as a promotion.

Witnesses at the modelling agencies testified they could tell something was wrong with the water because it appeared murky. They also spotted pinholes in the caps.

Saroor Zaidi told Ontario Superior Court he was once Arnaout's agent at Blitz Models and Talents. Zaidi said his agency took publicity photos of Arnaout, but had a tough time finding him work.

Crown attorney James Dunda told the court that Aranaout sent the bottles because the agency was not able to get him the kind of work he wanted.

Arnaout is also accused of sending similar bottles to a CIBC branch, and a judge, Bernard Kelly, who presided over a criminal harassment case against Arnaout in 2003 involving Blitz models. In that case, Arnaout pleaded guilty to sending threatening faxes to the agency.

Letters sent in 2007

The charges Arnaout faces include three counts of attempted murder for sending explosive mail packages to two people in Toronto and one in Guelph, Ont., in August 2007.

Arnaout was arrested under dramatic circumstances in August of that year, after police uncovered the three letter bombs.

Police took the extraordinary step of closing the Don Valley Parkway to transport the devices to the Leslie Street Spit near Lake Ontario to carry out a controlled detonation of the devices.

On Thursday, the Crown is expected to call on the people to whom Arnaout allegedly sent the packages.

Arnaout's former roommate, Abdelmagid Radi is, expected to tell the court on Thursday about the injuries he received when he opened one of those packages.

John Becker, a contractor from Guelph, will speak about a package he received that was packed with explosives and nails.

Arnaout is also accused of sending a similar package to Toronto lawyer Terrence Reiber.

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