Man charged in explosives related incident at Montreal airport says he was set up

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Antony Piazza is shown in a Montreal police handout photo. (Montreal Police / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

By Sidhartha Banerjee , THE CANADIAN PRESS

Antony Piazza is shown in a Montreal police handout photo. (Montreal Police / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Antony Piazza is shown in a Montreal police handout photo. (Montreal Police / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

MONTREAL: A Montreal man on trial for trying to board an airplane with explosives-related materials in his suitcase told a judge Friday he strongly believes he was set up and that he was shocked when authorities found the items.

Antony Piazza, an Iranian-born Canadian citizen, is facing four charges stemming from the Montreal airport bomb scare on Oct. 27, 2013.

Piazza, 74, told the court he believes an acquaintance in Spain with whom he had a falling-out over money inserted the items into his carry-on suitcase.

“I have 99.9 per cent suspicion that these things have been placed by him in my bag because no one else has access to my bag,” Piazza told the court.

Piazza said the luggage had been left at the man’s home in Spain during a trip earlier in 2013 while he made a side trip to England.

The smaller cabin luggage was placed in his empty, larger suitcase for the trip home. It was the only instance the luggage was out of his possession.

The arrest came a few months later as he attempted to leave Montreal for Los Angeles.

The retired businessman was eager to testify in his own defence Friday.

“I’ve been waiting three years and 16 days for this moment,” Piazza told Quebec court Judge Thierry Nadon.

Piazza said he was shocked when security screeners turned up the materials while X-raying his luggage as he prepared to board the California-bound Air Canada flight to see his siblings and place a stone on his late mother’s grave.

The tubes connecting the suitcase handle contained five bullets wrapped in plastic, while the other tube had wires, matchheads and blades.

Piazza testified he’d never touched guns or bullets in his life.

“I was deeply shocked and surprised at how those things got there,” he said, adding he co-operated fully with police. “I didn’t know what was going on.”

The court has heard previously the items in the extendable luggage arms could be used, technically, to make a detonator but that the explosion would have been minimal.

The discovery caused lengthy delays at the airport and a vast security perimeter in the Montreal neighbourhood where he lived.

Piazza also told the court how he changed his name for security reasons after his car was bombed.

His was born in Iran and his name at birth was Houshang Nazemi.