Man in Australia arrested over suspicious consulate packages

Erika Holt
January 11, 2019

The court was told the packages contained asbestos.

Victorian man Savas Avan has been charged over the series of suspicious packages received at consulates across Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney on Wednesday.

The 48-year-old man was arrested at his Shepparton home on Wednesday night and charged with sending risky articles to be carried by a postal service.

He was charged with sending risky articles to be carried by a postal service and is scheduled to appear before Melbourne Magistrate's Court on Thursday.

Emergency workers had been seen at consulates belonging to the UK, US, Switzerland, Pakistan, India, Greece, South Korea, New Zealand, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and France, Australian media reported.

They identified all the intended recipients and were working to recover the remaining packages, but said there was no ongoing risk to the public. Victoria police said they believed the incidents were targeted and did not impact the general community. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, police said.

A 48-year-old from northern Victoria has been arrested and charged over dozens of suspicious packages that were delivered to embassies and consulates throughout Australia.

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Police, who have recovered 29 of the parcels, said they would intercept the rest.

It came two days after Sydney's Argentinian consulate was partially evacuated following reports of a suspicious substance. They gave no additional details of how the asbestos was packaged or what the motive might have been.

One New Zealand official told the ABC their consulate received a similar package.

DFAT said IT had sent an email to all Canberra-based diplomatic missions yesterday, and then to other consulates across Australia.

AAP reported at least two foreign consulates in Melbourne did not contact authorities about suspicious packages in their possession until they received an email from the government.

"They were very quick on to it, they provided advice to the relevant consular residences and in practical terms we learnt very quickly, that evening, that the substance was inert", he said.

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