Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Winnipeg Explosion Sparks National Safety Discussion for Those in Family Law

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Winnipeg Explosion Sparks National Safety Discussion for Those in Family Law

Article excerpt

Winnipeg bombs emphasize perils of family law


TORONTO - Family law practitioners across the country are re-assessing the steps they take to protect themselves in the wake of letter bombs being mailed to Winnipeg lawyers by a man who allegedly targeted those involved in his divorce proceedings.

Last week's events, which emphasized the particular set of risks faced by those in family law, also have the Canadian Bar Association preparing to circulate information on safety measures to those in the field.

But amidst the emphasis on taking precautions, Maria Mitousis, the lawyer who was severely injured by one of the Winnipeg letter bombs, is urging her colleagues not to retreat from their profession.

"The message she wanted to get out to the public and to family law lawyers particularly is 'don't stop what you're doing because of what happened to me. The service we provide is important,'" said Sofia Mirza, president of the Manitoba Bar Association, who has been in touch with Mitousis' family.

"It was really important to her to get that message out."

Guido Amsel, 49, is accused of sending letter bombs to two Winnipeg law firms and his ex-wife.

The first bomb, made up of a small voice recorder packed with an explosive compound, exploded last Friday, badly injuring Mitousis, who represented Amsel's former spouse in their lengthy divorce and a lawsuit in which she claimed her former husband owed her $40,000 from an auto body shop they had jointly run while married.

In a statement released through police on Friday, Mitousis said she remembers the entire experience and how she immediately tried to asses her condition after the explosion. She lost her right hand in the blast and severely injured her left, but recalls being relieved that she could still see.

The second bomb was found last Saturday at an auto repair shop where Amsel's ex-wife works, and was detonated by police. The third bomb was found at a law office where a lawyer who once represented Amsel used to work.

For some lawyers in Winnipeg, the incident led them to review their own files to assess if their cases had the potential to turn violent, said Mirza. …

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