Wednesday, 20 March, 2019

Victorian man charged over suspect embassy packages

A firefighter carries a hazardous material bag into a consulate in Melbourne on Wednesday after suspicious packages were sent to foreign missions around the city Victorian man arrested for allegedly sending suspicious packages to embassies
Jeannette Daniel | 10 January, 2019, 17:32

The ABC and Fairfax Media report that the packages contained cement and broken tiles in regular envelopes, with some packages including a note reading "asbestos".

The man, named as Savas Avan, was charged with sending risky articles through a postal service, an offence that carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) said in a statement.

The man arrested sent 38 parcels, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) allege.

Australian Federal Police and Victoria Police said in a joint statement that the man would appear in Melbourne Magistrates Court on Thursday. The accused faced the Melbourne Magistrates' Court this afternoon.

The packages were believed to contain an unidentified substance sourced from the man's home at Shepparton, about 200km (125 miles) north of Melbourne, police said.

Numerous diplomatic missions in the Australian cities of Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra received suspicious packages this week, with several consulates and embassies temporarily evacuated or put on lock-down on Wednesday.

Police did not release the suspect's name.

His lawyer Sonia Sawant did not apply for bail during the short hearing and he was remanded in custody to face court again on March 4.

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The Indian, New Zealand, South Korean, Swiss, Greek, French, Italian, Pakistani, Spanish and United States consulates in Melbourne and Canberra were among those targeted with suspicious packages on Wednesday.

Police have so far recovered 29 packages, which will be forensically tested, police said.

"The maximum penalty for the offence the man has been charged with is 10 years imprisonment", the statement added.

There was no ongoing threat to the public, authorities said.

"Similar advice was subsequently provided to consulates around Australia".

This followed the discovery and removal on Monday of a suspicious package at the Argentinian Consulate in Sydney.

The suspicious packages sparked a major emergency response and evacuation of seven foreign consulates across Melbourne, with embassies in Canberra also hit.

"The note advised missions to handle mail in accordance with their own government's protocols and instructions", a DFAT spokesman said.

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