Current Conditions

Mostly Cloudy
-6.7°C

Winnipeg lawyer who lost hand in bombing describes frantic moments after blast

A police tactical team, emergency crews and a bomb unit investigate a possible explosion at a law firm in Winnipeg on Friday, July 3, 2015. 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.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Trevor Hagan
July 11, 2015 - 6:00 AM

WINNIPEG - Maria Mitousis clearly remembers the explosion that almost killed her as she worked in her small family law practice — a blast from a seemingly harmless mail package that police allege was sent by an ex-husband of one of her clients.

In a statement released Friday through Winnipeg police, Mitousis recounted assessing her condition immediately after the bomb went off last week.

"I have my teeth, I can see, I can blink," the statement read.

"I'm going to get past this. I live in the moment," she recalled thinking as emergency responders rushed her to hospital where she would undergo 10 hours of surgery.

The extent of Mitousis's injuries became clearer Friday. Police confirmed the lawyer lost her right hand and her left was severely injured. She suffered "countless" injuries to her face, chest and thighs, said Const. Jason Michalyshen.

Despite the injuries, Mitousis expressed confidence and hope during an hour-long meeting with Michalyshen, he added.

"One of the first things she said was, 'I want people to know I'm OK. I'll get better.' She is going to go back to doing what she does as a lawyer."

Michalyshen said Mitousis recalled playing golf hours before the explosion and "remembered how at peace she was out on the golf course."

"What became most evident is that Maria is an incredibly resilient person."

The explosion last Friday was the first of what police allege was a targeted campaign of revenge by Guido Amsel, a 49-year-old man who had gone through a long and bitter divorce.

Amsel is accused of putting explosive compound inside digital voice recorders and mailing them to locations connected to two legal battles — his divorce and a lawsuit with his ex-wife over an auto body shop they used to jointly run.

One package exploded in Mitousis's office last Friday. She was Amsel's ex-wife's lawyer in both the divorce and the lawsuit.

Police say a second package was found at Amsel's ex-wife's workplace and safely detonated by the bomb squad. A third explosive device was found and detonated safely at a law office that represented Amsel in the lawsuit until last fall, when the lawyer withdrew from the case, citing "a breakdown of the relationship" with Amsel in a court affidavit.

Amsel is due to return to court next week. He has yet to enter pleas to charges including two counts of attempted murder. He also hasn't retained a lawyer, although he had been talking with one.

The legal community has rallied around Mitousis. An online fundraising effort has garnered $65,000 so far to help her recovery, which by all accounts will be a long one.

"I'm going to come back to do what I do," she said in the statement.

"I just don't know how that'll look just yet."

News from © The Canadian Press, 2015
The Canadian Press

  • Popular penticton News
  • Comments

View Site in: Desktop | Mobile