By Steve Lambert and Chinta Puxley, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG – Court documents show a man accused of sending letter bombs to Winnipeg lawyers and his ex-wife has been in a decade-long battle with his former spouse that includes accusations of theft, impersonation and a wedding ring being flushed down a toilet.
Police allege Guido Amsel, 49, became so enraged over perceived mistreatment at the hands of his former wife and lawyers who had been involved in the dispute, he sent explosive devices to their offices though Canada Post.
According to a sworn statement from police, an explosive compound was hidden in “a small grey voice recorder.”
A lawyer was seriously injured when a bomb blew up at a firm on Friday. Police detonated two more devices over the weekend and warned justice officials that more could be found in the next day or so.
Guido Amsel was being held in custody on charges including attempted murder pending a court date Tuesday. Police said they were continuing to search a business and a residence linked to the suspect.
The situation has unnerved many city residents and prompted dozens of reports of suspicious packages. City hall and a nearby Canada Post office were briefly evacuated Monday.
Court documents show Guido Amsel and his wife, Iris Amsel, separated in 2004. They have a son, who was nine at the time.
Documents from the divorce proceedings show no unusual acrimony at first. Guido Amsel and his wife owned a numbered company involved in automotive repair. The couple initially split shares in the company — Guido Amsel later bought out his ex-wife — and he was ordered to pay $500 a month in child support.
The divorce became bitter in 2010. Guido Amsel accused his ex-wife of siphoning more than $3 million from the company into hidden bank accounts prior to the divorce being finalized.
“It is my belief at the present time that during our cohabitation, the respondent secreted money to these accounts,” reads an affidavit from Guido Amsel dated July 9, 2010.
“I am fearful that the respondent will transfer funds from these and any other accounts she may have to Germany and thereafter relocate there with the intention of keeping our son there as well.”
Guido Amsel also accused his ex-wife in the affidavit of flushing his wedding ring down a toilet and trying to break up his second marriage by calling and pretending to be a boyfriend of the new wife.
Iris Amsel has denied all the accusations.
Iris Amsel’s lawyer was Maria Mitousis, who suffered severe injuries when the first letter bomb went off last Friday.
The 38-year-old was taken to hospital in critical condition, but has since been upgraded to stable. A source in the legal community said Mitousis had surgery and lost one of her hands.
Guido Amsel’s son, Kyle, wrote in a 2013 affidavit that he did not have a good relationship with his father, in part because “he has been threatening towards me when I do not agree with him that my mother stole several million dollars from their company.”
By August 2013, Guido Amsel was expressing doubt that Kyle was his biological son. He wrote a letter to Mitousis demanding a paternity test. The court agreed to order one on the condition Amsel pay for it. There is no record of a result on the court file.
At the same time, Guido Amsel had his wages garnished on at least one occasion and she launched a lawsuit in 2010 against him and others in connection with the numbered company she once shared with him. That matter is due to return to court in December.
One of the bombs detonated by police was found at another law firm involved with the case and the second was at a small automotive business north of downtown with ties to Iris Amsel.
Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman said police likely saved lives with their work over the weekend tracking down a suspect and taking precautions with any suspicious packages.
“The events that started on Friday are harrowing. Across our community I think it is safe to say we are reeling as Winnipeg our home has always seemed impervious to such ruthless, vengeful attacks,” Bowman said Monday.
Radio station CJOB reports there was also an explosion on the front steps of the home of Amsel’s ex-wife 18 months ago in the Rural Municipality of St. Clements.
RCMP say they can’t comment on the 2013 case at this time in order to “protect the integrity of ongoing investigations.”
Dave Kaine, who lived across the street at the time of the explosion, says the RCMP bomb squad did investigate at the time.
“We thought it was an airplane that had crashed, nobody knew for sure,” he said.